New research has shown for the first time that traces of our poor lifestyles, environmental stressors and trauma can be passed down to future generations through our DNA, potentially making our children more prone to conditions such as mental illness and obesity.
Scientists already knew that significant traumatic events such as famine could leave their mark on future generations, but this is the first time they’ve been able to observe the mechanism by which this happens. And they've found that, contrary to previously assumed, our genetic slate doesn't get completely wiped clean for our offspring.
The team have now been able to describe this epigenetic erasing process in humans - which occurs between weeks two and nine of an embryo's development - for the first time, and have shown that not all of these environmental changes get wiped clean. In fact, around 5 percent of our DNA is resistant to reprogramming, and can carry our mistakes onto the next generation, their research revealed.
These erase-resistant genes are particularly active in brain cells, and are associated with conditions such as schizophrenia, obesity and metabolic disorders, according to the researchers.
Via Sepp Hasslberger