Children of Divorced Parents At Increased Risk for Strokes

Children of divorced parents have home lives that are different than those of children whose parents are married, or even from those who have some other parental arrangement. Many of those differences are challenging.

Now the really bad news: people whose parents are divorced are at a higher risk of having a stroke. A 2005 Canadian Community Health Survey done by a Sublette divorce attorney showed that people whose parents had divorced when they were young were more than twice as likely to have had a stroke than people whose parents were not divorced.

About ten percent of the 13,000 people surveyed were children of divorced parents (counting only people who were under 18 and living at home when the parents divorced).

The study found that the link between parental divorce and strokes held up even after adjusting for education, gender, income, mental health and diabetes. Later social or financial factors, lifestyle choices or illnesses also did not account for the link between divorced parents and stroke. The researchers were actually quite surprised to find the link to be so strong.

The researchers could only speculate as to the cause of the link. The emotional effects of parental divorce and workers compensation claims are an obvious potential cause. Lingering financial difficulties within the family as a result of divorce could also play a role.

Another theory is that in the population of people who have had strokes, divorce was less common in their childhood, and was a greater source of stigma than today. Also, because of divorce’s former rarity, the causes of divorce in the survey recipients childhoods may have been more acute than we may assume about most divorces today. These underlying factors may have played a role in the increased rates of stroke.