When two parents divorce, there are many widely-known side effects that may occur in their children, such as academic and disciplinary difficulties in school, depression, anxiety, and an increased risk of divorce in adulthood. However, according to a new study recently presented by the University of California, Davis and the Gerontological Society of America, there is one odd side effect of divorce. Children of divorced parents have a more than doubled risk of suffering a stroke at some point during their adult lives, and researchers have uncovered no explanation for why this is the case.

The study examined a representative sample of more than 13,100 people, seeking to uncover more information about the physical and emotional reasons that adults suffer strokes. What researchers found surprised them: the odds of stroke were approximately 2.2 times higher for study respondents who had experienced parental divorce.

Researchers initially believed that other risk factors, such as poor diet and exercise habits and other harmful health behaviors, mental health, and socioeconomic status, might explain the unprecedented link between divorce and stroke. However, according to researcher Esme Fuller-Thompson, PhD, that was not the case. "We were very surprised that the association between parental divorce and stroke remained so strong even after we had adjusted for smoking, obesity, exercise and alcohol consumption," she said.

Generally, a stroke is caused by a genetic predisposition, obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise, or defective blood vessels. Therefore, researchers are stumped as to the reason for the correlation between parental divorce and future stroke. Of the 13,130 study respondents, 10 percent reported that they had experienced parental divorce at some point during their childhood. Of those same respondents, about 2 percent reported that they had been diagnosed with a stroke at some point in their adult life.

Source: Examiner.com, "Why does parental divorce in childhood raise the risk of stroke in adulthood?", Anne Hart, 22 November 2010