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A recent study by researchers at prestigious Carnegie Mellon University provides divorcing parents with another reason to work hard at civility. The study revealed that adults whose parents’ relationship during their childhood had deteriorated to the point of not speaking following a divorce were over three times more likely to contract common cold and flu viruses than those whose parents were still married or had moved on and stayed civil following a divorce.

The research is seen as a first step in proving that early childhood family conflict can have a deleterious impact on health decades in the future.

Scientists aren’t completely sure why a contentious post-divorce relationship between parents increases the likelihood that children would become ill, but suspect that the heightened stress of such situations create an inflammatory immune response. Previous research has posited that stressful and traumatic situations have a long-lasting, physiological impact on the body: this study seems to verify the truth of that hypothesis.

The silver lining

The proverbial “silver lining” of this study and similar research is that all divorces are certainly not created equal in their impact upon the health of the children involved. People whose parents divorced yet remained civil had the same low risk of contracting a virus than those whose parents were still together. This news should be seen as an additional incentive for divorcing parents: the long-term health of your children could be impacted if you aren’t able to put your differences aside and co-parent without hostility.