Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Can strong parental bond protect infants down to their DNA?

Date:
July 22, 2014
Source:
Tulane University
Summary:
Scientists are launching a groundbreaking study looking at critical periods early in a child’s life when exposure to stressors matters most. The goal is to track telomeres – a cellular marker for aging and stress – to discover the biological mechanism for how early trauma gets under the skin, potentially stealing time from a child’s biological clock. Can parents create a biological buffer that shields children decades later from disease and toxic stress?

Tulane University psychiatrist Dr. Stacy Drury has been given $2.4 million by the National Institutes of Health to test a provocative new theory -- how well children bond with a parent in the first year of life leaves lasting genetic protection, potentially shielding them from disease risks well into adulthood.

Drury, a geneticist, is a pioneer in new research exploring the biological impacts of early adversity on children. She is the first scientist to show that extreme stress in infancy can biologically age a child by shortening the tips of chromosomes, known as telomeres. These caps keep chromosomes from shrinking when cells replicate. Shorter telomeres are linked to higher risks for heart disease, cognitive decline, diabetes and mental illness in adults.

"Telomeres are clearly a marker of the aging process, but they are increasingly being linked to stress," says Drury, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences and director of the Behavioral and Neurodevelopmental Genetics Laboratory at Tulane University School of Medicine. "And what this suggests is that we have a marker that is in a cell that is sort of tracking the lasting impact of these negative early life experiences."

She and Tulane scientists are recruiting 500 pregnant women to see if a responsive and sensitive parental bond can create a "biological buffer" in children that protects against telomere shortening and toxic stress.

The Tulane Infant Development Study will be the first to document what happens physiologically before and after infants develop "attachment," the all-important bond with mothers or primary caregivers. More than 140 expectant mothers are enrolled. Researchers are working with area clinics and social service agencies to recruit participants during the next five years.

"This is all designed with a goal to gather information that is useful in improving health outcomes in our city," she says. "If I just need to really strengthen that (parenting) relationship for the first six months of life and that is going to improve health outcomes for decades? That's an easy sell, right? It's also an easy sell to moms and caregivers."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Tulane University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Tulane University. "Can strong parental bond protect infants down to their DNA?." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722101912.htm>.
Tulane University. (2014, July 22). Can strong parental bond protect infants down to their DNA?. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722101912.htm
Tulane University. "Can strong parental bond protect infants down to their DNA?." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140722101912.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Mind & Brain News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

FDA Eyes Skin Shocks Used at Mass. School

AP (Sep. 15, 2014) The FDA is considering whether to ban devices used by the Judge Rotenberg Educational Center in Canton, Massachusetts, the only place in the country known to use electrical skin shocks as aversive conditioning for aggressive patients. (Sept. 15) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

'Fat Shaming' Might Actually Cause Weight Gain

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) A study for University College London suggests obese people who are discriminated against gain more weight than those who are not. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins