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Parental absence in early childhood linked to smoking and drinking before teens

Parental absence in early childhood as a result of death or relationship break-down is linked to a heightened risk of starting to smoke and drink alcohol before that child reaches his/her teens, indicates research published online in the Archives of Disease in Childhood.

Previous research suggests that childhood adversities are associated with poorer mental and physical health in adulthood, and the ‘loss’ of a parent has been linked to a heightened risk of smoking and drinking in adolescence and later life.

But what is not clear is whether parental absence is a risk factor for an even earlier start on ‘risky’ health behaviours, or what the potential impact might be of the child’s sex, the age at which they experienced their loss, or which parent they lost.

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