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The impact of parental break-ups has been studied by researchers from University College London. Data from over 6,000 children, gathered as part of the longitudinal Millennium Cohort Study, has been analysed to assess children’s mental health at age 3, 5, 7, 11, and 14. A fifth of the sample experienced parental splits during this time. The findings suggest that family breaks-ups in late childhood and early adolescence are most likely to lead to behavioural and emotional problems in children. Children who experienced a parental break-up between age 3 and 7 were no more likely to suffer mental health problems than those whose parents stayed together. However, a parental split between the ages of 7 and 14 was found to increase children’s emotional problems by 16% on average, with findings consistent for both privileged and disadvantaged groups. Behavioural problems were also much more prevalent among boys in these circumstances.

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