Bullying, Child Abuse Hasten Aging in Kids
Children exposed toِ multiple instances ofِ violence age faster onِ a cellular level thanِ children withoutِ violent experiences, a newِ study finds.
Although childhood stress hasِ long beenِ linked withِ laterِ disease risk andِ health problems, theِ study isِ the firstِ to show accelerated biological aging inِ childhood asِ a result ofِ stress.
Those kids areِ ‘older’ thanِ they areِ supposed toِ be, saidِ study leader Idan Shalev, a postdoctoral researcher atِ Duke University.
Violence and stress
Several studies haveِ foundِ that adults whoِ experienced violence asِ children tend toِ haveِ shorter telomeres thanِ those withِ peaceful childhoods.
But thoseِ studies couldn’tِ determine whetherِ theِ telomeres hadِ beenِ shortened becauseِ of childhood stress orِ becauseِ of laterِ adult health problems stemming fromِ that stress, Shalev said.
By theِ 10-year-old time point, 17 percent ofِ the children hadِ experienced domestic violence inِ their households, 24.2 percent hadِ beenِ frequently bullied andِ 26.7 percent hadِ beenِ physically abused byِ anِ adult, according toِ interviews withِ theِ children’s mothers.
Wear and tear
The results ofِ the DNA analysis showed thatِ children inِ the final group, thoseِ who hadِ experienced twoِ orِ moreِ types ofِ violence, hadِ significantly faster telomere shortening betweenِ ages 5 andِ 10 onِ average thanِ the otherِ children.
Instead, itِ seems theِ telomere shortening isِ a result ofِ cumulative stress.
It’s notِ yet clear howِ stress translates toِ shorter telomeres, Shalev said, butِ inflammation, anِ immune response toِ stress, mayِ beِ to blame.