Does dad’s stress affect his kids?

September 1st, 2011 - 6:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, Sep 1 (IANS) An individual’s risk for stress-related disorders may be determined by his or her father’s life exposure to stress, according to a new study.

Most of the past work has focused on maternal effects but in this study researchers investigated paternal effects on kids’ health.

They found that male mice exposed to chronic stress pass those behaviours along to their offspring, the journal Biological Psychiatry reports.

Both their male and female offspring showed increased depression and anxiety-like behaviours, although the effects were stronger in males.

Significantly, these behavioural changes were only present in offspring brought forth naturally, and not products of in-vitro fertilisation.

The risk of depression is influenced by both environment and genetics. But there is even a third factor that most of us know nothing about - epigenetics.

It shows how your environment and your choices can influence your genetic code - and that of your kids, according to a Mount Sinai School of Medicine statement.

That interesting twist suggests that most stress-related vulnerabilities are transmitted to subsequent generations behaviourally, rather than epigenetically.

“This type of translational animal work is important to help scientists focus their work in humans,” explained lead author Eric Nestler from Mount Sinai School.

“These findings in mice raise the possibility that part of an individual’s risk for clinical depression or other stress-related disorders may be determined by his or her father’s life exposure to stress.”

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