Parental separation or divorce increases in kids the risk of psychosomatic problems, including concentration and sleep difficulties, says a study.

The researchers also found that joint legal custody of children seems to be less problematic than sole custody.

"We think that having everyday contact with both parents seems to be more important, in terms of stress, than living in two different homes," study author Malin Bergstrom from the Centre for Health Equity Studies in Stockholm, Sweden, was quoted as saying by

The researchers used data from almost 150,000 Swedish 12- and 15-year-olds in a bid to see if children’s domestic living arrangements were linked to a heightened risk of psychosomatic problems.

The prevalence of psychosomatic problems was assessed using a validated scale (Psychosomatic Problems scale). The assessment focused on concentration and sleep difficulties; headaches; stomach aches; feelings of tension, sadness, and dizziness; and loss of appetite.

The analysis showed that girls reported more psychosomatic problems than boys at both ages, although the researchers caution that girls generally report more psychosomatic ill health than boys.

But teens living mostly with one parent as a result of family break-up reported the most psychosomatic problems, while those living with both parents in a nuclear family set-up reported the fewest.

Children living in joint custody arrangements had fewer psychosomatic problems than their peers living mostly or only with one parent, but they still had more problems than children living with both parents in a nuclear family.

The study was published online in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health.