Big Epigenetics News - New finding is first example in humans of the theory of epigenetic inheritance: the idea that environmental factors can affect the genes of your children

This confirms the theory about how stress that one parent experiences before having children can impact children generations down the line. This is thought to be an important factor in schizophrenia.

"Genetic changes stemming from the trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors are capable of being passed on to their children, the clearest sign yet that one person’s life experience can affect subsequent generations.

The conclusion from a research team at New York’s Mount Sinai hospital led by Rachel Yehuda stems from the genetic study of 32 Jewish men and women who had either been interned in a Nazi concentration camp, witnessed or experienced torture or who had had to hide during the second world war.

They also analysed the genes of their children, who are known to have increased likelihood of stress disorders, and compared the results with Jewish families who were living outside of Europe during the war. “The gene changes in the children could only be attributed to Holocaust exposure in the parents,” said Yehuda.

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Within two years, I’d say, the jury will be in how the stress in a parent or parents effects the epigenetic expressions in their children after the children are born. It’s already there in animal research. I doubt that this will silence the true believers in the “all nature” theory, but understanding why they have to believe as they do, why should it?

I wish it weren’t so, but it would seem protein overlays can change it all. New dimensions to human complexity. (Frankly I’m not sold) most epigenetic features don’t pass on.

Many don’t. But for some odd reason, they sure as hell do in the sz spectrum. (My thesis is diathesis / stress, but you already knew that.)

I read this earlier today and it brought up a few questions

• in terms of the Holocaust survivors - it’s a very specific sample, and there were some very specific environmental factors going on that could have emphasized the results. Even just how exposure to extreme conditions or toxins can increase the magnitude of how your DNA is altered. Thinking of Chernobyl, for example, extreme radiation caused some unpredictable things. Holocaust is very specific, but I’m in no way suggesting the direction isn’t relevant to other people

• what about the parents’ response to trauma? say they experience something and their method of coping involves external agents that compromise the DNA? if you think of how behavioral traits are passed on and factor in how stressors are managed, it seems that can play an additional role in what ends up being altered genetically. Even if a parent copes with childhood trauma through food and becomes obese, that can affect how the child learns to cope and throws in an additional factor to how things are altered.

I really like this idea. It means potentially that we are born into a certain enviroment, and that we might inherit fears of events even if we are not exposed to them ourselves. Apparently we are NOT blank slates from birth.