DNA may ‘remember’ your childhoodposted 03-Jan-2012
Study shows that childhood living conditions cause changes to DNA that persist into middle age.
The research, by British and Canadian scientists, could explain why people who grow up in poverty tend to have more health problems in later life.
The scientists screened DNA from forty middle-aged men - half born into rich households and half born into poor ones – for gene methylation (one of the biochemical modifications, known as epigenetic changes, that alter whether a gene is switched on or off).
They found a surprising amount of variation in DNA methylation, with distinct patterns associated with the wealth or poverty of the men’s childhood homes.
“We can’t say whether the genes were altered in infancy, childhood, foetal life, or even the previous generation,” said co-author, Professor Marcus Pembrey. But the alterations survived to middle age.
The researchers hope to pinpoint when the changes happen using blood samples taken from children taking part in ALSPAC – a project tracking 14,000 people born in the Bristol area.
DNA may ‘remember’ your childhood
Original press release
International Journal of Epidemiology Article
Does your DNA remember your childhood? Bionews
Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC)