June 8, 2023

Parents’ Depression and Stress Leaves Lasting Mark on Children’s DNA – The Daily Beast

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I found this story fascinating: Parents’ Depression and Stress Leaves Lasting Mark on Children’s DNA – The Daily Beast.

Here are some of the many compelling and thought provoking segments of the story:

“…when parents are under emotional, financial, or other forms of stress, it can alter their children’s patterns of genetic activity at least through adolescence and perhaps longer. And since some of the altered genes shape brain development, the effects of parental stress might permanently wire themselves into children’s brains.”

“This is the first time scientists have ever found a link between parental stress in early childhood and the condition of their children’s DNA. As such, it represents the next frontier in the study of nature and nurture: identifying how the experiences we have (nurture) affect our DNA (nature).”

“The new study shows that childhood experiences that fall well short of abuse, or even of having a mother who is depressed, leave their marks on our DNA.”

“Since we already know that parents’ marital and financial stress can hurt children’s development, a skeptic might ask whether the new study advances the ball. It does. By showing how parenting exerts the effects it does—namely, by altering which of a child’s genes are turned on and which are turned off—it makes those influences much more real and concrete, much the way brain imaging studies that show junkies’ brains when they crave heroin made addiction much more real and concrete: just as a junkie can’t simply summon the willpower to kick his addiction, so a child cannot just shake off the legacy of a troubled infancy and adolescence. That legacy has altered her very DNA.”

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