People who parents divorced while they were children are more likely to have high levels of a blood protein linked to illness, new research suggests.
According to a study by researchers at University College London, people whose parents separated or divorced before their 16th birthdays typically have higher levels of C-Reactive Protein in their bloodstream at the age of 44. Levels of C-Reactive Protein rise in response to inflammation and high levels over a long period have been linked to both coronary heart disease and type II diabetes.
The researchers analysed data from the National Child Development Study, a long term study of the lives of a group of people born in 1958.
The researchers were unsure of the precise reasons for the link between divorce and the protein, but said people whose parents separated during their childhoods were more likely to have been disadvantaged and to have struggled at school. The link underlines the importance of supporting separating families, they claim.
Lead researcher Dr Rebecca Lacey said: “Our study suggests that it is not parental divorce or separation per se which increases the risk of later inflammation but that it is other social disadvantages, such as how well the child does in education, which are triggered by having experienced parental divorce which are important”.
The study was published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.