Is di­vorce in your genes?

Sunday Express - - HEALTH/RELATIONSHIPS -

Di­VORCE could be in the genes, with chil­dren of sep­a­rated par­ents “pro­grammed” to split up as well, ac­cord­ing to a study. it has been thought that chil­dren of di­vorce are twice as likely to get di­vorced them­selves be­cause they do not have hap­pily mar­ried par­ents as role mod­els.

But though this may have an in­flu­ence, a study has found there are strong bi­o­log­i­cal rea­sons too.

While there is no “di­vorce gene”, the per­son­al­ity traits that of­ten cause mar­riages to break up – such as ex­treme neg­a­tiv­ity or lack of self-re­straint – may be writ­ten in our Dna and passed on from par­ents to their chil­dren.

Re­searchers at Vir­ginia State Univer­sity in the US and Swe­den’s Lund Univer­sity tested the ge­netic the­ory by look­ing at the mar­i­tal his­to­ries of more than 20 000 adopted chil­dren.

They found that these chil­dren were more likely to re­sem­ble their bi­o­log­i­cal par­ents and sib­lings than their adop­tive fam­i­lies when it came to whether they ended up be­ing di­vorced – sug­gest­ing na­ture is more im­por­tant than nur­ture.

Co-au­thor Dr ken­neth kendler, of Vir­ginia State Univer­sity, said: “i see this as a quite sig­nif­i­cant find­ing.

“nearly all the prior lit­er­a­ture em­pha­sised that di­vorce was trans­mit­ted across gen­er­a­tions psy­cho­log­i­cally.

“Our re­sults con­tra­dict that, sug­gest­ing that ge­netic fac­tors are more im­por­tant.” To fur­ther test their ge­netic hy­poth­e­sis, the re­searchers looked at 82 698 peo­ple who grew up with their bi­o­log­i­cal mother but had an ab­sent fa­ther.

They found that such chil­dren were still in­flu­enced by their fa­ther’s di­vorce his­tory.

How­ever their own di­vorce his­tory was more sim­i­lar to their mother’s, sug­gest­ing the per­son they grew up with still mat­tered to a de­gree above their ge­netic in­her­i­tance.

The re­searchers said that di­vorce is linked to those who ex­pe­ri­ence roller­coaster emo­tions, with high lev­els of neg­a­tiv­ity and pos­i­tiv­ity, and low lev­els of sel­f­re­straint.

These per­son­al­ity traits can lead to mar­i­tal prob­lems and in­sta­bil­ity and could be passed on to chil­dren through their par­ents’ genes, they wrote in the jour­nal Psy­cho­log­i­cal Science.

More than 101 000 mar­riages end each year in Eng­land and Wales, al­though the di­vorce rate has plunged to its low­est level in mod­ern times as ris­ing num­bers of cou­ples choose to live to­gether in­stead of walk­ing down the aisle.

Re­searchers have re­peat­edly found that chil­dren of di­vorce are more likely to end their mar­riages, but de­bate rages over whether this is learned from par­ents or in­her­ited from their genes. Study lead au­thor Dr Jes­sica Sal­va­tore said: “at present, the bulk of ev­i­dence on why di­vorce runs in fam­i­lies points to the idea that growing up with di­vorced par­ents weak­ens your com­mit­ment to and the in­ter­per­sonal skills needed for mar­riage.

“These pre­vi­ous stud­ies haven’t ad­e­quately con­trolled for or ex­am­ined some- thing else in ad­di­tion to the en­vi­ron­ment that di­vorc­ing par­ents trans­mit to their chil­dren – genes.

“Our study is, at present, the largest to do this.

“And what we find is strong, con­sis­tent ev­i­dence that ge­netic fac­tors ac­count for the in­ter­gen­er­a­tional trans­mis­sion of di­vorce.” — Daily Mail

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