Crappy parenting can damage your kid’s DNA: report

Blame your parents for all your problems? Science supports that.

A new report by researchers at Lomo Linda University suggests that aloof and unsupportive parenting damages their children’s health on a genetic level, potentially leading to disease and early death in adulthood.

“The way someone is raised seems to tell a story that is intertwined with their genetics,” says lead study author Dr. Raymond Knutsen, public health professor at Lomo Linda University.

Telomeres are the protective tips at the ends of DNA strands that shield our chromosomes from damage and decay. When are DNA isn’t properly protected, our cells age quicker and we become more susceptible to illness and disease.

Of the 200 subjects tracked for this study, which will run in the July edition of Biological Psychology, researchers found that those who reported growing up with a “cold” mother had telomeres that were an average of 25 percent smaller than those with “warm” mothers.

“As early life stress increases, telomeres shorten and the risk of a host of diseases increases, as well as premature death,” says Knutsen.

Researchers also looked at how education level and body mass index (BMI) might play into how a child’s DNA responds to cold parenting.

“The association with parenting style was greatest among those with less education,” the paper states, “and those who stayed overweight/obese or put on weight during follow-up.”

This suggests that “both higher education and normal BMI may provide some resilience against cold parenting and cellular aging.”

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