24/11/2010 06:00 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

Children Of Divorced Parents Have Higher Stroke Risk

There's no doubt that divorce has an emotional effect on children. But if your parents divorced when you were little, you could be twice as likely to have a stroke as someone whose parents stayed married, say experts.

Stress during childhood leads to health problems in adults: Pink Sherbert Photography

Researchers from the University of Toronto based their findings - which have just been presented to the Gerontological Society of America - on a large-scale study of 13,000 Canadians.

They were looking at the impact of childhood stress on health later in life, and were surprised to discover there was a link between divorcing parents and their children having a stroke when they're older.

But it's not necessarily as bad as it sounds, they say. Since strokes mostly happen in people over the age of 65, the children of divorced parents who are about that age today would have grown up in the 1940s and 1950s. And back then the stigma of having divorced parents was far greater than it is now (in other words, today's children aren't as badly affected when their parents separate).

But it does highlight the fact that childhood stress has a real impact on your health. Childhood poverty, for instance - which is sadly much in evidence these days - is a major cause of stress. And since stress can interfere with a child's production of the hormone cortisol, that could leave them vulnerable to a range of health problems as they get older.

Stress is thought to be the biggest cause of people taking time off work, but if you're buckling under the pressure yoga may help.

Did you suffer any stress as a child? Has it affected you in your adult life?