-- Robert Preidt
WEDNESDAY, July 23, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Children and teens
who lose a parent might face an increased risk of an early death in
adulthood, a new study suggests.
People who were children or teens when a parent died had a 50
percent greater risk of death during the study period than those
who had not experienced the death of a parent, according to the
Although the study found an association between a parent's death
and a child's later risk of premature death, it wasn't designed to
Also, the increased risk of premature death among these people
may be due to both genetic factors and the long-term effects of a
parent's death on the health and social well-being of a child,
researcher Jiong Li and colleagues at Aarhus University in Denmark
The study findings were published in the July 22 issue of the
The team analyzed data on children born in Denmark, Finland and
Sweden between 1968 and 2008. Nearly 190,000 children were between
6 months and 18 years when one of their parents died. During a
follow-up period ranging from one to 40 years, almost 40,000 of
those people died.
The increased risk of early death persisted into early
adulthood, no matter how old a child was when a parent died. The
researchers also found that the increased risk of death was higher
among children whose parents died from unnatural causes rather than
natural causes (84 percent vs. 33 percent). The risk of death was
highest among children of parents who committed suicide, according
to a journal news release.
The researchers said their findings show the need for health and
social support for children and teens who have lost a parent, and
added that this support may be necessary for a long time.
The American Academy of Pediatrics explains how to help
children cope with death.
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