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Pediatrics. 2012 May;129(5):e1187-91. doi: 10.1542/peds.2011-2657. Epub 2012 Apr 9.

Parental separation and pediatric cancer: a Danish cohort study.

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  • 1Survivorship, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Copenhagen, Denmark.



The purpose of this study was to determine the risk for separation (ending cohabitation) of the parents of a child with a diagnosis of cancer.


In a nationwide cohort, we compared the risk for ending cohabitation of the parents of 2450 children (aged 0-20 years) given a diagnosis of cancer with the risk of parents of 44‚ÄČ853 randomly selected, gender- and age-matched cancer-free children. We adjusted for socioeconomic position and demographic factors. Rate ratios and 95% confidence intervals for separation were estimated in a Cox proportional hazards model.


The parents of children with cancer did not have a higher risk for separation than the general population (rate ratio: 1.00 [95% confidence interval: 0.91-1.10]). Separate analyses according to type of cancer and survival of the child similarly yielded null results.


Experiencing cancer in a child does not seem to be a risk factor for separation. Our study will allow clinicians to reassure parents and to support them in facing the trauma of cancer in their child.

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