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Study links immunity problems to bitter child custody fights

When Maryland parents are preparing to divorce, the impact that such a move will have on their kids is often a top concern. Research has long supported the idea that children who go through divorce are at elevated risk for a number of negative outcomes, including depression, anxiety and social issues. However, a recent study suggests that it may not be the divorce itself, but the manner in which parents handle a divorce and child custody changes that determine how a child will fare.

The study included more than 200 adult participants, all in good health. They were asked about their childhood experience with parental divorce as well as how their parents communicated in the aftermath of a divorce. Then, participants were exposed to a virus that causes the common cold. Researchers evaluated which participants fell ill, and which were able to fight off the virus.

What researchers discovered was that those individuals who went through a bitter parental divorce during their childhood were more than three times more likely to get sick than those who lived in intact families. Even more interesting, adults who reported that their parents divorced but remained in contact with one another had similar rates of illness as those who never experienced parental divorce. It appears that being exposed to high levels of stress during childhood can have a negative impact on developing a healthy immune system.

This outcome suggests that it may not be a divorce itself that leads to problems in children, but the manner in which parents handle the end of a marriage. That is a powerful message for Maryland parents who are gearing up for a divorce and child custody case. In order to reach the best possible outcomes for kids, parents should make every effort to create a positive new relationship as co-parents.  

Source: Chicago Tribune, "When divorce turns bitter, kids' immunity may pay a price", June 8, 2017

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