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Childhood Stress Leaves Genetic Scars
ScienceNOW ^ | 24 April 2012 | Katherine Rowland

Posted on 04/28/2012 3:52:41 PM PDT by neverdem

Enlarge Image
sn-telomeres.jpg
Early damage. Telomeres (red) are shorter in children who have been abused.
Credit: Pasleka/Photo Researchers Inc.

Traumatic experiences in early life can leave emotional scars. But a new study suggests that violence in childhood may leave a genetic mark as well. Researchers have found that children who are physically abused and bullied tend to have shorter telomeres—structures at the tips of chromosomes whose shrinkage has been linked to aging and disease.

Telomeres prevent DNA strands from unravelling, much like the plastic aglets on a shoelace. When cells divide, these structures grow shorter, limiting the number of times a cell can reproduce. For this reason, telomeres may reflect biological age. Research has found associations between stress and accelerated telomere loss, and shortened telomeres correlate with several health problems, including diabetes, dementia, and fatigue.

But the connection between telomere length and health and longevity is far from clear. "There's a lot of doubt in the field," notes Joao Passos, a cellular aging specialist at Newcastle University in the United Kingdom who was not involved in the research. "For as many studies that show telomere length as a good predictor of health outcomes, there are as many that find no relationship."

Also unclear is whether childhood stress can affect telomere length. Almost all recent work on the topic has used retrospective data—that is, adults' recollections about their past. The new study examined children who were under stress to determine if they have shorter telomeres.

To conduct it, a team of researchers at Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, used data from the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study, which has followed 1100 sets of British twins from birth to observe how genes and environment interact. In addition to gathering information about diet, education, and income, the scientists interviewed mothers about their children's experience of violence in the form of direct physical abuse, bullying, and exposure to parental domestic abuse.

The team selected 236 children, half of whom had experienced at least one form of violence. Using DNA samples collected at ages 5 and 10, the investigators measured telomere length using polymerase chain reaction to assess how many times a particular gene copied itself. The average number of times a gene replicated itself was lower among children who had experienced violence, the team reports today in Molecular Psychiatry, indicating a relationship between violence and shortened telomeres. In addition, the researchers found a significant association between the number of violent experiences and the amount of telomere loss.

"Children who experience physical violence appear to be aging at a faster rate," says neuroscientist and co-author Avshalom Caspi. As a result, he says, they may face increased risk of disease in adulthood and possibly shortened lifespan.

But the findings were not entirely grim. Among a small number of DNA samples drawn from children who had experienced violence before age 5 but not after, the researchers observed telomere growth. For children who experienced multiple incidents of violence between ages 5and 10, by contrast, the data showed a clear pattern of telomere loss. This finding could be a result of errors in the way telomeres were measured, says neurobiologist Idan Shalev, the lead author. But other studies suggest that making healthful life changes, such as reducing stress and exercising, can slow down the rate of telomere loss. Shalev suggests that improving a child's household environment might have the same effect in protecting telomeres.

Charles Nelson, a pediatric neuroscientist at Harvard Medical School in Boston, says scientists don't know whether it's possible to reverse telomere shortening. However, he says, "It will be interesting to see if this process will reverse itself if these children are removed from their abusive homes and placed with safe families."

Forthcoming research may provide an answer. Now that the children from the study are 18, the Duke team plans to measure their telomeres again to determine if shortening has slowed down, or even reversed, for children who were removed from stressful environments.

Psychologist Elissa Epel of the University of California, San Francisco, says that although questions loom large in this field of research, the work underscores the need to protect children. "Rather than assuming children are biologically resilient given their youth, such exposures leave imprints that may not just go away as we age."


TOPICS: Culture/Society; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: abuse; childabuse; geneticdamage; stress; telomerelength; telomeres

1 posted on 04/28/2012 3:52:45 PM PDT by neverdem
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To: neverdem
Telomeres prevent DNA strands from unravelling, much like the plastic aglets on a shoelace

I don't know much about telomeres, but knowing what an "aglet" is will probably win me a drink in the local bar next week..

2 posted on 04/28/2012 3:55:31 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: hinckley buzzard

“aglet”

Sounds like a “personal problem”; your dermatologist might be of help... LOL.


3 posted on 04/28/2012 3:59:20 PM PDT by carriage_hill (I'd vote for a "orange juice can", before 0bummer&HisRegimeFromHell, gets another 4yrs. Can-> later.)
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To: hinckley buzzard

Actually a friend of mine won a prize from a radio station because she knew what an aglet was.


4 posted on 04/28/2012 4:04:30 PM PDT by ladyjane
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To: neverdem

“Children that experienced violence”

Is it the same for giving and receiving?


5 posted on 04/28/2012 4:20:59 PM PDT by glorgau
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To: neverdem
Telomeres (red) are shorter in children who have been abused.

Could it possibly be because abused children are not ed so much useful food as nonabused children are? Isn't lack of attention or deliberate withholding of food is part of the problem with abused children? Or is Lysenko back in vogue?

6 posted on 04/28/2012 4:21:34 PM PDT by arthurus (Read Hazlitt's "Economics In One Lesson.")
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To: hinckley buzzard
I don't know much about telomeres, but knowing what an "aglet" is will probably win me a drink in the local bar next week..

Yep, that's a new one on me, everyone I know has always called them eyelets. Aglet another bit of info to add to my vast store of useless trivia. I used to astound people with the knowledge that a cubic yard of stone rip rap weights 127 lbs. Knowing the weight didn't astound them as much as knowing what stone rip rap was in the first place.

7 posted on 04/28/2012 4:25:11 PM PDT by calex59
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To: calex59
a cubic yard of stone rip rap weights 127 lbs.

don't you mean a cubic foot?

A cubic yard of limestone riprap is around 3300 pounds or so, depending on the grade.

I've installed tens of thousands of tons of the stuff.

8 posted on 04/28/2012 4:33:46 PM PDT by digger48
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To: digger48

Yep, I made a typo. A cubic foot.


9 posted on 04/28/2012 4:35:03 PM PDT by calex59
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To: calex59

now...here’s one for you.

How many gallons will fit in a cubic foot?

It’ll shock the crap out of most folks.


10 posted on 04/28/2012 4:35:09 PM PDT by digger48
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To: digger48

A cubic yard of stone rip rap weights 1.4 tons according to everything I can find on it:)


11 posted on 04/28/2012 4:37:18 PM PDT by calex59
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To: digger48

Used to love that stuff.


12 posted on 04/28/2012 4:37:37 PM PDT by the invisib1e hand
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To: ladyjane

“Aglet” is used a lot in crossword puzzles.


13 posted on 04/28/2012 4:38:22 PM PDT by digger48
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To: digger48

Alright, I don’t know but if you want to win bets ask your friends to pronounce this work sounded out in syllables exactly this way. ba seb all. I guarantee you that it is a very rare person who will say baseball. They will come up with all sorts of weird sounding pronunciations but almost never say baseball.


14 posted on 04/28/2012 4:40:16 PM PDT by calex59
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To: calex59

that would work out about right, though. Wouldn’t it?

I never concerned myself with it much until we were doing a project where we were buying by the ton, but billing by the yard.

I had a heck of a time finding someone at the quarry who could answer that. They had to call Corporate Office to find out.


15 posted on 04/28/2012 4:41:02 PM PDT by digger48
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To: digger48

Darn, on post 14 work should be word.


16 posted on 04/28/2012 4:43:34 PM PDT by calex59
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To: neverdem

thought that was a sample of UC Berkely graduates playing tic-tac-toe


17 posted on 04/28/2012 4:54:52 PM PDT by ptsal (E)
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To: digger48
8 gallons, plus or minus.

/johnny

18 posted on 04/28/2012 5:00:01 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: digger48
Somewhere, I've got a dead-tree book with all those specific gravity numbers in it. Dad owned a construction company, and back then it was reference books and slide-rules and pencil and paper.

/johnny

19 posted on 04/28/2012 5:02:36 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: neverdem
Just recently, there became something that you can buy in the health food stores called TA-65 which is called a telomerase activator. Horrifically expensive but it’s supposed to reverse the shortening of the telomeres and thus reverse the aging process. I know a fellow about age 70 who has been taking it for a year and of all the things closest to the fountain of youth, this would seem to be the closest. Even his hair is getting darker.
20 posted on 04/28/2012 5:12:51 PM PDT by hecticskeptic
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To: JRandomFreeper

7.48 Gallons

hard to imagine a square foot holding more than a 5-gallon bucket. but it does.


21 posted on 04/28/2012 5:12:51 PM PDT by digger48
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To: ladyjane

You need cooler friends.


22 posted on 04/28/2012 5:14:47 PM PDT by Senator Pardek ( It might be hard for some of the younger Freepers to believe, but in 1982)
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To: calex59
Yep, that's a new one on me, everyone I know has always called them eyelets.

The eyelets are what you lace the shoestrings THROUGH.

The aglets are the plastic/cellophane wrap that is at each END of the lace, which keeps the shoelace from fraying.

23 posted on 04/28/2012 5:28:56 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: JRandomFreeper; digger48

Actually, I believe it is a little under 7.5 gallons.


24 posted on 04/28/2012 5:31:29 PM PDT by UCANSEE2 (Lame and ill-informed post)
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To: UCANSEE2
That's what I said. 8 gallons plus or minus. ;)

I use 64 lbs/cu ft for water, and 8 lbs per gallon (pint's a pount/world around), because it's easy and close enough for most stuff.

I could have looked up the exact number, but I was within 10%.

/johnny

25 posted on 04/28/2012 5:39:35 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: digger48
I had a former brother in law that was illegally melting down batteries and casting lead ingots with them. He stacked them in a 1 cu. ft. box. I told him he would never move it. He laughed. He also never moved it, while it was full.

/johnny

26 posted on 04/28/2012 5:50:26 PM PDT by JRandomFreeper (Gone Galt)
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To: digger48

Now that is interesting. I do a lot of crossword puzzles and I can only remember one time the word aglet was used. (I do mainly the NYTimes puzzles, sorry, but I never buy it!) Now epee is there all the time and nano.


27 posted on 04/28/2012 5:56:23 PM PDT by ladyjane
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To: Senator Pardek
You need cooler friends

Somehow I knew it was *you* saying this. But then again, it's Saturday night and you probably don't have a date. Again.

28 posted on 04/28/2012 6:02:38 PM PDT by ladyjane
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To: ladyjane
Meow! I can't help it if my (latest) old lady walked out on me.

Tell you what - I'll walk a few blocks (you kinda know where I live) and take care of that "date" thing and be home in 90 minutes after only having to buy a couple of cocktails - K ?

29 posted on 04/28/2012 6:26:16 PM PDT by Senator Pardek ( It might be hard for some of the younger Freepers to believe, but in 1982)
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To: Senator Pardek

90 minutes?

LOL


30 posted on 04/28/2012 7:01:28 PM PDT by ladyjane
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Click the link. The Republic you save may be your own.

31 posted on 04/28/2012 7:29:23 PM PDT by RedMDer (https://support.woundedwarriorproject.org/default.aspx?tsid=93)
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To: ladyjane

Our local rag has the NYTs crossword on Sunday.

About the only reason I buy it.


32 posted on 04/28/2012 8:01:09 PM PDT by digger48
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To: UCANSEE2

Thanks for clearing that up, and it makes sense seeing as how they were talking about something similar holding DNA strands together:)


33 posted on 04/28/2012 10:30:42 PM PDT by calex59
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To: neverdem

DHS last Thursday used the police power to remove my 8 yr old and her 4 yr old half sister (my grandchildren) from the ONLY home they have known -and DHS has reportedly told Alyssa’s birth father she is not to have ANY contact with anybody in this house. The younger granddaughter was split from her half sister and placed with her other grandmother (Robin- mother of the druggie daddy of Kaylee) I suppose she has been told the same.Those girls were NEVER abused -nor neglected here. Not by their grandparents. Never harmed by their mother either-but they were frightened of Kaylee’s daddy who both girls said often was “mean to their momma”—and to them) DHS said they wanted to help Tamara keep her girls. They employ a psych warfare tactic that is effective—but is waterboarding, Isolation (and this is a form of such) and deprivation( all practiced by our armed forces to train adults about to be deployed in harms way.And as interrogation.Now I wonder if the real harm done by DHS will affect my grandchildren’s genes? The stress of being removed by force from ones home ought not be sneezed at.Welcome to the Police State. Formerly called the United States of America.


34 posted on 04/29/2012 4:08:04 AM PDT by StonyBurk (ring)
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To: neverdem

DHS last Thursday used the police power to remove my 8 yr old and her 4 yr old half sister (my grandchildren) from the ONLY home they have known -and DHS has reportedly told Alyssa’s birth father she is not to have ANY contact with anybody in this house. The younger granddaughter was split from her half sister and placed with her other grandmother (Robin- mother of the druggie daddy of Kaylee) I suppose she has been told the same.Those girls were NEVER abused -nor neglected here. Not by their grandparents. Never harmed by their mother either-but they were frightened of Kaylee’s daddy who both girls said often was “mean to their momma”—and to them) DHS said they wanted to help Tamara keep her girls. They employ a psych warfare tactic that is effective—but is waterboarding, Isolation (and this is a form of such) and deprivation( all practiced by our armed forces to train adults about to be deployed in harms way.And as interrogation.Now I wonder if the real harm done by DHS will affect my grandchildren’s genes? The stress of being removed by force from ones home ought not be sneezed at.Welcome to the Police State. Formerly called the United States of America.


35 posted on 04/29/2012 4:08:04 AM PDT by StonyBurk (ring)
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To: ladyjane

Thanks - now I have a terrible rash.


36 posted on 04/29/2012 9:48:53 AM PDT by Senator Pardek ( It might be hard for some of the younger Freepers to believe, but in 1982)
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