A new study says that an acrimonious divorce between parents could affect their child’s immune system in adulthood.
Children whose parents separate and cut off communication are said to be at increased risk of colds as adults.
The study included more than 200 healthy adults who were exposed to a common cold virus.
Those whose parents lived apart and didn’t talk to each other during the participant’s childhood were found to be three times more likely to develop a cold than those whose parents remained together.
According to the study, participants whose parents separated during childhood but remained in contact were not at increased risk of catching a cold.
Michael Murphy, a researcher at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, US, said the study has given an insight into how childhood circumstances affect one later in life.
“Early life stressful experiences do something to our physiology and inflammatory processes that increase risk for poorer health and chronic illness.
“This work is a step forward in our understanding of how family stress during childhood may influence a child’s susceptibility to disease 20-40 years later,” Murphy said.