Nowadays, we are very well informed about the fact that our childhood experiences affect our adulthood. If our childhood was filled with neglect, trauma or abuse, then it is obvious that we will carry this baggage with us into our adulthood and it acts as a barrier in realizing our potential. Many people nowadays are working hard to shed the baggage so that they can become what they are meant to be.
It is not always about an abusive childhood, even the way you were brought up also has an impact on your personality. Though today’s parents are well read about this piece of information, still they are not aware of the full extent of their impact. Things are beginning to shine, as parents are realizing what they should or should not do to help their children chart their own path and become successful in their own way. The children are the future of the new Earth and if they can flourish in the right environment, then that is the best thing to happen.
Research suggests permanent change in DNA due to childhood experiences
Our childhood experiences are greatly responsible for the person we are now. The genetic material called the DNA determines everything about us, including our personality and physical characteristics. It can also be held responsible for some of our diseases and our health condition. Alzheimer’s, cancer, Huntington’s disease and diabetes can be hereditary.
We thought DNA to be a rigid thing, but the scientists are discovering that there is a possibility of changing the DNA as well. Thom McDade, an anthropology professor at Northwestern University has successfully shown us DNA can be twisted or modified as per our childhood environment. In the Journal ‘Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the professor concluded that the modifications can have an effect on when and how we develop various illnesses during our adulthood.
A study was conducted over 500 Philippines’ children and it was concluded that several childhood conditions can cause modifications in our genes that are associated with inflammation. This directly has an effect on the chances of us developing particular illnesses. The factors that affected the modifications are socioeconomic status, microbes’ exposure in infancy, the time period of breastfeeding, and the extended time frame of a child living without any parent.
What is the meaning of all these?
DNA is essentially a long text that employs 4 letter alphabets, which is used to make proteins by our cells using it as the instruction manual. The classification of letters or the DNA sequence defines the person’s genes that remain unchanged throughout the body. Some sentences or genes are only necessary for the DNA alphabet to make each of the cell types to work.
According to Thomas McDade, PNAS study’s principal author, some genes in our body has an adverse effect on our health, but if epigenetic processes turn off those genes or make them silent, then it is a good thing.
Epigenetics means the study of transformation in organisms prompted by alteration of gene articulation rather than genetic code modification. It has changed the way we looked at genomes or thought about it.
Environment affecting the health
Inflammation which is generally the reaction of our body to the wounds and infections plays an important position in human health. There are many who are suffering from inflammation but are not even aware of it. Inflammation can lead to many deadly diseases like cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, and dementia.
The responsibility of the body includes igniting an inflammation against several threat levels and threats. You can compare the role of inflammation with the role of fire-fighters.
“Let’s consider the fire to be an infection or for that matter an injury and the department to be the inflammatory response. In case of fire outage, we would want the fire department to act fast and put off the fire by using the least amount of water and once they are done with their job they must leave. You want the firemen to be prepared with necessary arrangements so that they can fight a small or a big fire successfully. You can very well imagine what would have happened if they are not equipped properly as per the situation.”
There are two reasons due to which the researchers are focusing on the inflammation. Firstly, earlier research suggested that when children are kept in certain environments, improper inflammation trigger off during adulthood. The research that was carried out on 500 children can be used to find out details about inflammation and methylation.
In 1983, data were collected from 3000 pregnant women in the Philippines. They came from a different background like some had a roof over their head, whereas some didn’t, then there were some who lived in rural areas and some lived in the urban areas, some had access to clean water, some didn’t. The researchers studied more than 500 records in order to know if at all the environment during the growing years had any effect on epigenetic modification of DNA and then in adulthood whether it changed anything in inflammatory proteins.
Once the children were born, the researchers recorded everything and traced the environments they were exposed to throughout their growing period. When the babies turned 21 years old, blood samples were taken to measure DNA methylation in their genes and also the inflammation allied proteins that have a direct link to cardiovascular disease along with other diseases that are age-related.
The authors determined that in the blood the level of inflammation-related proteins during adulthood is getting directly affected by the environment in which children grew up.
The social, nutritional, physiological, and microbial environments that the children are exposed to in their childhood act an important role in the health and physiology of the children’s life later, according to McDade. Prolonged breastfeeding, an abundance of family assets, and exposure to microbes lead to better adjustment of inflammatory proteins. If there is not enough exposure to microbes or there is a prolonged absence of parents or lack of family assets then deregulation of the inflammatory proteins was higher.
When we are raising our child these points should be kept in mind as the environment plays an important and direct role in their health as well as their potential in their adulthood. All said and done, we have the ability to change our DNA and science is also accepting the fact slowly. We can achieve whatever we decide on.
New research reveals how the environment of the growing years affects us when we are adults. DNA has the ability to change depending on the environment.
- A new study has revealed a lot about the effect of our childhood environment on our adult life
- Our DNA has the ability to change under different circumstances
- A study on 500 children from the Philippines was conducted to prove this
- This proves that it is very important that a child is given a healthy environment to flourish.