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The Children of Mothers Who Were Stressed During Pregnancy Experience “Accelerated Aging”

According to a new study by UC Irvine, the children of mothers who experienced stress during their pregnancies did not age as well as those who came from more chilled-out wombs. So, if you were looking at your face this morning, thinking that your skin was betraying you and that it must be because you haven’t been drinking enough water, fret no more. It’s all your mom’s fault. And there’s nothing you can do about it. Thanks, Science.

Actually, this study was not related to appearance and aging. More like the aging of cells and the occurrence of aging-related diseases. Published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, it is all related to telomeres — DNA sequences attached to the end of chromosomes that prevent them from deteriorating or fusing. (Thank you, Wikipedia.) And there have been correlations found between stress and the length of telomeres: when stress is present, telomeres are shorter. And when a person’s telomeres are shorter, they experience conditions associated with aging such as heart disease and dementia.

When Dr. Sonja Entringer and her colleagues at UCI examined the DNA of otherwise healthy 25-year-old men and women born to mothers who had experienced unusual levels of stress during pregnancy, they found that their test subjects’ cells looked…older than expected. The test subjects had, on average, telomeres typical of 28-year-olds born to mothers with less stressful pregnancies. In fact, the telomeres of the female test subjects more closely resembled those of a typical 30-year-old.

Oh great! So the cells of female subjects were even worse than those of the males. What happens when they get pregnant? Do their children come out like Benjamin Button? Either way, there’s not much we can do about this. So just hope you’ll have the insurance for preventive medicine.

(io9)

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