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Early Childhood Conditions Help Shape DNA: Research


Early childhood living conditions provoke biological changes in genes leading to DNA "memory" that can last a lifetime, an international study has found.Experts have already noted that income, education and neighbourhood resources can have a dramatic effect on children's health, and that a poor socio-economic environment in infancy can translate into a higher risk of adult disease and early mortality. But a study published online Thursday in the International Journal of Epidemiology suggests that early experience works changes that are far more than skin deep.

The environment of early childhood influences brain and biological development and leaves a "memory" in the genetic code that affects the way genes function, say researchers from McGill University, the University of British Columbia and the UCL Institute of Child Health in London, England."Biological embedding" may help explain why health disadvantages linked to a lower socio-economic origin — including obesity, mental health problems, heart disease, diabetes and other chronic illnesses — can last a lifetime even if living conditions improve later. Read more here.

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