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Study suggests child abuse leaves molecular scars on victims


As per a research, scientists suggested that children subjected to abuse may carry the physical hallmark of that trauma in their cells. The research could help criminal investigations probing historic mistreatment.

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A team of researchers at the University of British Columbia examined the sperm cells of 34 adult men, some of whom had been victims of child abuse years earlier.They found that the effects of the trauma were indelibly printed in 12 regions of the DNA of those men who had experienced varying levels of emotional, physical or sexual abuse.

Nicole Gladish, a PhD candidate in the university’s Department of Medical Genetics told news agency AFP , “If you think of genes as being like lightbulbs, DNA methylation is like a dimmer switch that controls how strong each light is – which in turn can influence how cells function.This information can potentially provide additional information about how childhood abuse affects long-term physical and mental health.”

Scientists who were involved in the study, said they still did not know how methylation affects a person’s long-term health. In addition, due to the difficulty in extracting egg cells, the team doesn’t plan to replicate the experiment on women – statistically far likelier to have been victims of child abuse than men.

Not just that, they could also roughly tell the time when the men were abused because the degree of methylation changes over time.

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