Mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere erosion

Posted by: on Apr 25, 2013 | No Comments

Childviolence2There is increasing interest in discovering mechanisms that mediate the effects of childhood stress on late-life disease morbidity and mortality. Previous studies have suggested one potential mechanism linking stress to cellular aging, disease and mortality in humans’ telomere erosion. In a new study, Duke University researchers examined telomere erosion in relation to children’s exposure to multiple violent incidents, specifically.

Compared with their counterparts, the children who experienced two or more kinds of violence exposure showed significantly more telomere erosion between age-5 baseline and age-10 follow-up measurements, even after adjusting for sex, socioeconomic status and body mass index. This finding provides support for a mechanism linking cumulative childhood stress to telomere maintenance, observed already at a young age, with potential impact for life-long health.

Early childhood violence is a salient early-life stressor, which has known long-term consequences for well-being and is a major public-health and social-welfare problem.