Children Exposed to Violence Causes Premature Aging

Everyone is aware that being exposed to violence is physically hazardous to our health.  But, we never realized how deep the injuries are until now.  There has been a study performed on children to show how their DNA is forever altered by violence.  Whether they are the victim or not, the outcome is the same.

The reports lead author, Idan Shalev is a post-doctoral researcher at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy in Durham, N.C.  He examined the ends of children’s chromosomes, called telomeres, which exposed cellular aging  in Tuesday’s Molecular Psychiatry. The effect of this DNA alteration is “causing changes that are equivalent to seven to 10 years of premature aging.”

The study included interviews with mothers of 236 children at ages 5, 7 and 10.  They were asked if their children had been exposed to domestic violence, physical abuse by an adult, or bullying. Researchers swabbed the children’s mouthes to get the DNA needed to measure the children’s telomeres at ages 5 and 10.

Shalev told USA Today:

“Telomeres shortened faster in kids exposed to two or more types of violence…. Unless that pattern changes, the study suggests, these kids could be expected to develop diseases of aging, such as heart attacks or memory loss, seven to 10 years earlier than their peers.”

Read more on this interesting study here. This could be instrumental research in the development of children in dangerous cities.

-J.C. Brooks

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