Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Violence Can Change Children's Chromosomes

Children who experienced at least two types of exposure to violence showed significantly more telomere erosion between ages 5 and 10 than did controls subjects, report researchers from Duke University. Shortened telomeres eventually lead to cell death and are associated with aging and degenerative diseases.

The study of 236 children born in 1994 and 1995 took DNA samples at ages 5 and 10 and also looked at their exposure to maternal domestic violence, frequent bullying victimization, and physical maltreatment by adults.

“This finding provides support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health,” said postdoctoral fellow Idan Shalev, Ph.D., and colleagues online today in Molecular Psychiatry.

To learn more about how telomere length affects both mental and physical health, see Psychiatric News here and here.

(Image: Creations/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.