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Parents' Military Deployment Takes Toll on Kids, Study Finds
Date:4/5/2013

FRIDAY, April 5 (HealthDay News) -- Children from military families whose parents are deployed are at greater risk for alcohol and drug use, according to a new study.

This risk increases when parents' deployment disrupts their children's living situation and the kids are forced to live with people who aren't relatives, researchers from the University of Iowa found.

Schools should be aware that children from military families whose parents are deployed may need additional support, the researchers suggested.

"When at least one parent is deployed, there is a measurable percentage of children who are not living with their natural parents," the study's senior author, Stephan Arndt, professor of psychiatry in biostatistics, said in a university news release. "Some of these children go to live with a relative, but some go outside of the family, and that change in these children's living arrangements grossly affected their risk of binge drinking and marijuana use."

The results suggest that when a parent deploys, it may be preferable to place a child with a family member and try to minimize the disruption, he said.

In 2010, nearly 2 million U.S. children had at least one parent on active military duty, the researchers said.

The study, published online in the journal Addiction, involved information compiled on nearly 60,000 sixth-, eighth- and 11th-grade students who participated in the Iowa Youth Survey. The students answered questions online about their experiences with alcohol, drugs and violence. They were also asked about how they viewed their friends, family, school and community, and if they had a parent in the military and if that parent was deployed.

Overall, 1.3 percent had a parent who was deployed, 1.7 had a parent who recently returned from deployment and 97 percent did not have a parent in the military.

The researchers found that the students in all three grades whose parents
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