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Signs of childhood trauma can be inherited and passed on

People who have suffered traumatic experiences also suffer long-lasting physical and mental consequences. A new study shows that these consequences can be passed on to later generations.

A team of researchers have identified a biological mechanism that enables traumatic experiences to be embedded in germ cells. Their study suggests that childhood trauma can embed signs in the blood and can be passed on to children and even grandchildren.

Unlike classical genetic heredity, this information about the consequences of childhood trauma can be passed on through biological factors that involve the epigenome that regulates genome activity. What the researchers wanted to know is how exactly these signals triggered by traumatic activity become embedded in germ cells.

According to Isabelle Mansuy, professor of neuroepigenetics at the University of Zurich’s Brain Research Institute and the ETH Zurich’s Institute for Neuroscience, their hypothesis revolves around the idea that the circulation of the blood may play a role in this phenomenon.

Mansuy and her team showed that the effects of childhood trauma have a long-term influence on blood composition, including physical conditions like metabolic disorders. She adds that finding a link between childhood trauma and metabolic disorders in descendants can bear extremely important impacts on medicine and treatment.

By understanding these underlying biological processes, medical practitioners can potentially prevent the late-onset consequences of these negative life experiences. This improves the life outlook not only of the one directly affected by the childhood trauma but also of their children and descendants.


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