Poverty "Ages" Genes of Young Children, Study Shows

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posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 05:54 PM
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Science has already shown that the stress of being poor literally makes people sick - but now, researchers have found that poverty ages children's genes, starting as young as 9 years of age. ...Not surprising. Important too. Whatcha think ATS?

NOTE: The logic of posting this in Breaking Political News: a) The personal is political; b) health is personal; therefor c) health is political. Hope you agree. ; )


Poverty "Ages" Genes of Young Children, Study Shows

The stress of growing up in a poor and unstable household affects children as young as 9 years old on a genetic level, shortening a portion of their chromosomes that scientists say is a key indicator of aging and illness, according to a study released Monday. The researchers say their findings are the first that document this type of genetic change among minority children and make a strong case for the importance of early-childhood intervention in vulnerable communities.

Researchers examined the DNA of a small group of 9-year-old African-American boys who had experienced chronic stress as a result of growing up in families with poor socioeconomic status. They found that the boys’ telomeres were shorter than those of boys the same age and ethnicity who came from advantaged families.

Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes that function as a sort of cap to protect the genetic information when the DNA replicates. The telomeres become shorter each time DNA replicates, and studies have shown that stress accelerates that shortening, serving as a sort of genetic weathering that’s similar to aging.

The scientists were surprised to find significant associations between the shortening of the boys’ telomeres and low family income, low levels of maternal education, family instability and a harsh parenting style, compared with boys who came from higher-income and more stable and nurturing backgrounds. In addition, disadvantaged boys who had a genetic sensitivity to dopamine and serotonin — neurotransmitters connected with happiness and feeling pleasure — experienced accelerated shortening of their telomeres, pushing them farther down the road toward stress and sickness.

.....Scientists have already documented how the stress of being poor can have an intense physical effect on people, literally making them sick.

But the relationship between poverty and telomeres is a relatively new field of research.
edit on 8/4/14 by soficrow because: (no reason given)




posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 05:58 PM
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reply to post by soficrow
 


Very interesting find, thanks for posting it!




posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 06:09 PM
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They needed a study to tell you this? Don't get me wrong, I am glad they have the science to back it up, but I think people have known this for a very long time.

Now, when you combine poor diet, insomnia from stress and lack of medical care in there... and then people turn around and say the poor are just lazy or make bad decisions. I'll tell you what these things affect your reasoning and productivity.



posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 06:16 PM
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reply to post by soficrow
 





Researchers examined the DNA of a small group of 9-year-old African-American boys who had experienced chronic stress as a result of growing up in families with poor socioeconomic status. They found that the boys’ telomeres were shorter


Please pardon my ignorance on all things science, but does this mean that they could pass this "shortening" on to their children?

What about the idea that it could alter their brain chemistry and possibly structure?



posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 06:48 PM
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off-topic post removed to prevent thread-drift


 



posted on Apr, 8 2014 @ 08:34 PM
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When congress stopped the Unemployment Compensation Benefits for 2 million people who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own, the only thing they managed to accomplish was to create this effect for over 5 million more children nationwide.

Interesting article, I grew up without a lot of money myself. Honestly, It has created unnecessary fear and extreme, unwarranted hatred against those who are rich or wealthy. I am always holding on to large amounts of money from fear of losing it all and once again being that little girl who had nothing. Sometimes, I still think money can buy happiness.

I think I just may be a product of this condition.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 02:08 AM
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Why is the OP assuming that poverty affects people's genes? That's not what the study found at all. It found that some people have greater genetic sensitivity to the effects of poverty than others.

Don't get cause and effect mixed up -- read the actual paper, not the Al Jazeera article!

This finding is exactly what we would expect from standard genetic theory.

Paper

edit on 9/4/14 by Astyanax because: of a phone.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 03:38 AM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


What the OP said, is exactly what I got out of the article.


those who grow up in highly disadvantaged environments have shorter telomeres



Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress.



We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 07:55 AM
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calstorm
They needed a study to tell you this? .....these things affect your reasoning and productivity.


Yes, they needed a study to tell us this. It's one thing to "know" poverty has physical effects on health, reasoning and productivity - quite another to prove poverty 'ages' DNA, and show how it happens. ...You do understand this is not an epidemiological study right? The researchers used sensitive microscopes and measured cells' telomeres:


Telomeres are repetitive sequences of DNA found at the ends of chromosomes that function as a sort of cap to protect the genetic information when the DNA replicates. The telomeres become shorter each time DNA replicates, and studies have shown that stress accelerates that shortening, serving as a sort of genetic weathering that’s similar to aging.

The scientists were surprised to find significant associations between the shortening of the boys’ telomeres and low family income, low levels of maternal education, family instability and a harsh parenting style, compared with boys who came from higher-income and more stable and nurturing backgrounds. In addition, disadvantaged boys who had a genetic sensitivity to dopamine and serotonin — neurotransmitters connected with happiness and feeling pleasure — experienced accelerated shortening of their telomeres, pushing them farther down the road toward stress and sickness.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:15 AM
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Astyanax
Why is the OP assuming that poverty affects people's genes? That's not what the study found at all. It found that some people have greater genetic sensitivity to the effects of poverty than others.

Don't get cause and effect mixed up -- read the actual paper, not the Al Jazeera article!

This finding is exactly what we would expect from standard genetic theory.

Paper


I am always astounded when people in this day and age talk about "cause and effect" - like they missed the decade where all the disciplines teamed up to figure out the dynamics of systems biology. lol. Anyway, I have no doubt we're looking at epigenetic control of gene expression - specifically with respect to the serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways' effects on telomere length. I found the explanation of "genetic sensitivity" in the AlJazeera article to be pretty okay - please explain exactly where you think it goes wrong.


To illustrate what that genetic tendency means, Mitchell turned to a common analogy made by scientists. Some people are dandelions; no matter the environment, they turn out the same and are resilient when faced with stressful circumstances.

Other people are orchids; they’re highly affected by their environment. In good circumstances, they flourish, but, as Mitchell explains, “If anything seems to go wrong, they just crumble.”


Those people, the orchids, Mitchell said, are the ones who have the genetic marker for sensitivity to dopamine and serotonin. “It amplifies whatever signal they’re getting from the environment,” he told Al Jazeera. “If it’s a good environment, then it’s great, but if you’re constantly in a disadvantaged environment, then you have the worst result.”

In terms of evolution and survival of the fittest, having that biomarker isn’t such a good thing when a person is living in a stressful environment. “In general, you’d want people to be insensitive to all sorts of environments,” Mitchell explains, so they can adapt and survive in any circumstances.

However, he also points out that the genetic sensitivity — as well as his team’s findings — suggests an early intervention in the lives of poor children can have a profound effect.

“Those kids can also benefit the most from any intervention,” he said, adding that the results are “continued support for the idea that we need to have early interventions in early childhood that help alleviate the effects of these kinds of negative environments. And some of those kids will benefit much more than we could realize.”

In fact, Mitchell added, because those kids are so affected by their environments, “it may be the kids that have the worst outcomes that benefit the most from any intervention.”


The researcgh paper:


Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. We use data from 40, 9-y-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study to extend this observation to African American children. We report that exposure to disadvantaged environments is associated with reduced TL by age 9 y. We document significant associations between low income, low maternal education, unstable family structure, and harsh parenting and TL. These effects were moderated by genetic variants in serotonergic and dopaminergic pathways. Consistent with the differential susceptibility hypothesis, subjects with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged social environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:17 AM
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reply to post by soficrow
 


I wounder how they figured this out? All class of people can raise their offspring differently. You can be rich and feed your child junk food and neglect their health or be poor and do the same. All children go through stresses of their families wealth class. In closing it has to have an equal and also damaging effect on being "rich" and being a child. There was a guy (16 years) that hit and killed 4 people and he got off for "affluenza" or whatever you call being a spoiled brat



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:23 AM
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reply to post by marbles87
 


I wounder how they figured this out?


They took flippin cell samples, stuck them under a microscope and measured the bloody telomeres.

Amazing, isn't it? They didn't even need super high tech.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:27 AM
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I think this thread should move to science and technology forum.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:54 AM
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reply to post by imwilliam
 


Please pardon my ignorance on all things science, but does this mean that they could pass this "shortening" on to their children?

What about the idea that it could alter their brain chemistry and possibly structure?


The "shortening" tendency is clearly epigenetic, and could be inherited - epigenetic mechanisms likely govern the so-called "genetic sensitivity" too. ("Epigenetic" means "above the genes" - epigenetic mechanisms turn genes off and on, and alter gene products post-translation without changing DNA.)

The ideas that poverty "could alter their brain chemistry and possibly structure" is outside the parameters of this study - but have been done I recall. ...Why don't you search the topic and start a thread on it?



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 08:57 AM
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candlestick
I think this thread should move to science and technology forum.


Any particular reason, with respect to the argument posted in the OP?

The logic of posting this in Breaking Political News: a) The personal is political; b) health is personal; therefor c) health is political.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 09:01 AM
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soficrow
reply to post by marbles87
 


I wounder how they figured this out?


They took flippin cell samples, stuck them under a microscope and measured the bloody telomeres.

Amazing, isn't it? They didn't even need super high tech.


Not really amazing,the nature must have the nature way to kill(/wipe out) those disadvantaged individuals. The experiment proofed what I believe.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 09:34 AM
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reply to post by imwilliam
 



The most important thing about epigenetic effects - inherited or not - is that they can be reversed. ...Generally, removing the environmental trigger is all it takes. So it really is all about the environment, not the genes.

Cool, dontcha think?



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 09:37 AM
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reply to post by soficrow
 



Anyway, I have no doubt we're looking at epigenetic control of gene expression

Wrong. You are looking at a difference in the way individuals react to environmental stimuli. That is a genetic difference.

If what you say were true, all or nearly all poor kids would have shorter telomeres than rich kids do. According to the study, that is not the case. Some poor kids' telomeres stay long under the effects of poverty, some poor kids' telomere's get shorter. That is, I repeat, a genetic difference. On the whole, though, poor kids tend to have shorter telomeres than rich ones. That's an environmental difference

Bad living conditions make people age faster. Is this news to you? Well, it should not be. Here's a sentence from The Road to Wigan Pier, written by George Orwell in 1936:


She had a round pale face, the usual exhausted face of the slum girl who is twenty-five and looks forty, thanks to miscarriages and drudgery.

To say that poverty ages people is to state the obvious. People have known it for ever. The news here is that some have more (or less) genetic resistance to the effects of poverty than others. Which is what evolutionary theory predicts, without recourse to epigenetics.



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 09:40 AM
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reply to post by soficrow
 


Hey Soficrow,

Thanks for your response. If I understand it correctly, then the tendency or susceptibility for the telomeres to shorten under stress is inheritable, but not the shorter telomeres themselves.



The ideas that poverty "could alter their brain chemistry and possibly structure" is outside the parameters of this study - but have been done I recall.


I'll try and find some time to educate myself on some of this, it really is incredibly interesting. (I was thinking when I first read this about the studies done on violent criminals; looking for a structural differences in their brains and genetic factors, and that this could potentially reverse the cause and effect).




Why don't you search the topic and start a thread on it?


I just might do that, once I have enough posts to start a new thread.

Thanks again Soficrow

edit on 9-4-2014 by imwilliam because: (no reason given)



posted on Apr, 9 2014 @ 02:45 PM
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reply to post by Astyanax
 


Epigenetic processes control gene expression by turning genes off and on, and by modifying gene products post-translation - they can be inherited. This means that inherited "tendencies" and "susceptibilities" often are epigenetic not genetic - turns out actual genetic mutations are quite rare.





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