Byline: MADELEINE BRINDLEY
CHILDREN raised in single parent households are more likely to suffer mental health problems and develop drug problems, researchers warn today. The risk of suicide among single-parent children was more than double that for children raised by both their parents and drug abuse was more than four times higher.
Lower incomes among single parent families is thought to be one of the major causes of such health problems rather than the long-term impact of parental break-up.
But pressure groups promoting the welfare of one-parent families believe poverty is the root cause of these health problems not the make-up of the family itself.
And single parents added that their children were no more likely to grow-up with a drug or alcohol addiction or mental health problems than children from two-parent households.Llanelli AM Helen Mary Jones, who has a six-year-old daughter, said, ``No parent can be complacent about their child but I really don't believe the fact that my daughter is growing up on her own with me is the factor that leads to these problems.''
Today's research by a Swedish team is the latest in a long line of reports to be published that links lone parenting to severe health problems in children.
Previous studies have produced conflicting reports with researchers unable to decide whether the psychological health effects of divorce or separation are long-term or short-term.
But the team from Sweden's National Board for Health and Welfare has suggested that the low socioeco-nomic status of single parent families is one of the major causes of one-parent children's relative poorer health.
There are 74,000 lone parent families with dependent children living in Wales, according to the 2001 Census, and half live on incomes below the low income threshold.
UK statistics suggest that one in five single parent families live in poverty even though they represent just 9% of the population. They are the group that is at the greatest risk of poverty.
The Swedish team reached its conclusions by comparing hospital admissions for 65,000 children living in single-parent households and 920,000 children brought up in two-parent households. …