Childhood trauma may permanently alter human DNA in some


Originally published at:


IMHO: Lamarck was partly right.

Don’t know whe Lamarck was ?


I’m on board with this, I’m genetically screwed up, for a plethora of reasons.


No. While there is a lot of interest in epigenetics, the important thing to remember is that it isn’t a genetic change. At most it can be inherited for a generation or two. Therefore it cannot be a cause of evolution.


IMHO: These are early scientific undertakings.
But the very evidence that environment may have an effect on DNA is groundbreaking.
I think that genetic modifications via environment may be proven later on. (or may not).

Science: Keep an open mind.


As far as i understand stress in the environment can affect epigenetics in pregnant women, and could potentially cause a related change in the child. Lack of food, depression, anxiety, etc. I don’t know how much is understood but have found the topic interesting when i first read about it some years ago.


I’m really tempted to quote Tim Minchin again.



Recent research has indicated that stressors like the ones you’ve mentioned can, in fact, result in gene expressions in offspring leading to both longer AND shorter lifespans, correlated to severity of the stress on the pregnant mother


“Genetic memory”, by Frank Herbert via Paul Maud’Dub.


The trouble with research like this is that it usually gets generalised and distorted in the public opinion, leading to a new kind of mythical thinking because “science”. Publish some research about the influence of stress on fetal genetics, and suddenly everyone scoffs at pregnant women who don’t do daily relaxing pregnancy yoga with relaxing aroma therapy. Or the ones that even watch stressful TV shows like GoT despite being pregnant!

I’m only mildly exaggerating here. I am still underwhelmed by my recent peek in midwifing literature.


I definitely agree with you, it’s easy to blow it out of proportion and come up with some cottage industry mythical woo of “do this and take that to have a smart healthy baby”. Which is why i’m interested in the continued research into the topic because i’d like to know more about stressors, their effects, and practical methods people can use. Sadly people have no sense when it comes to research and they interpret it however they want.


We’re on the same page of the book, then. :slight_smile: Very much at the beginning of the book. To bad we haven’t even got a TOC, or a synopsis.

Of course we don’t want to judge the book by it’s cover. Or the text blurbs on the dust cover.

Well… I do sense a slight problem there, which is the fundamental in fundamental research. ^^

Nevertheless, colour me mildly interested in epigenetics. I’m usually more interested in the long-term questions of evolution, but this stuff is fascinating.


I’m reminded of some earlier work on methylation around the Dutch Hunger Winter. There’s something about it in one of the Stanford Human Behavior Biology videos, unfortunately I can’t remember which one. It has been a few years, but it was a really interesting series.


Reminiscent of the way so many of the Mutants in X-Men comics have their powers triggered by a childhood trauma.


Exactly what I was thinking - this hypothesis has been extensively studied by Dr. Steven King.


Karma only goes so far :slight_smile:


Mine were likely contributed to highly by the death of my father at age 3. But I consider it one of the greatest gifts I’ve ever been given, for this very reason. :slight_smile:


That’s because “science” is promoted as a consensus to accept for management and marketing, rather than organizing society so that people do science instead of believe science. It’s a solvable problem which nobody works on, rather than trying to convince believers to believe the right thing. An evidence-based society is a fundamental shift.

BTW - Props to @AndreaJames for the unsensational headline “in some” rather than “in you”! That always bugs me.


In mammals CpG dinucleotides (the targets of promoter methylation) are hypermutable (they tend to mutate to TpG). This seems an odd feature for a DNA holoenzyme to pick up; my suspicion is this is a slow mechanism for making epigenetic modifications permanent, allowing faster, more flexible evolution of gene expression. A promoter that tends to be frequently methylated is more likely to mutate and become permanently less active.


While DNA in many body cell types can be affected in this way, germ cell (sperm and egg) DNA rarely is. Therefore, the changes are not passed on. (As far as we know now.)