Epigenetic inheritance, especially transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, is an important topic in epigenetic research. Do we pass down epigenetic marks to our children as a result of our lifestyle or behavior? Can this occur even long before conception and during pregnancy? Epigenetic studies suggest that the actions of a future mother or father can have long-lasting health effects on their children for years to come.
Studies show that certain DNA methylation marks can survive genome-wide reprogramming and be inherited. For example, a father’s exposure to phthalates could adjust epigenetic marks on sperm DNA and impact a couples’ ability to have children. A father’s diet and supplement intake could also influence his child’s mental fitness.
Mothers can influence epigenetic marks on their offspring’s DNA as well, changing how their baby will react to stress, whether or not they grow up healthy, and their ability to learn, remember and adapt as adults. The Mediterranean diet during pregnancy was shown to epigenetically reduce a child’s risk of disease.
Explore the ways in which lifestyle and habits of a mother and father – and potentially even grandparents or great-grandparents – may influence the epigenetic marks and health of later generations via epigenetic inheritance.
Check out our comprehensive e-book Epigenetics in Life: What We Eat to learn more about how different foods influence health.
Many people believe that breastfeeding is the best gift a mother can offer to her child. It has lots of benefits, not only because breast milk contains the right amount of nutrients, but also because it’s packed with lots of antibodies and biologically active compounds that play a key role in boosting a baby’s immune system. We have already seen how maternal nutrition and lifestyle can shape the development and future health of a baby via epigenetic mechanisms. Among many [more…]
DNA is the blueprint from which most living organisms are built. It makes up the genes that carry the distinctive characteristics and information that determine physical appearance and health, and it makes everybody unique. At the beginning of life, human embryos inherit genes from both their mother and father, and although the actual genes cannot be altered, the way they are expressed can be influenced by epigenetics. Parents can have a huge epigenetic influence on the development of an embryo [more…]
Have you ever heard the old saying “you are what you eat?” This is not just an expression anymore, as scientists have discovered that we are what we eat and possibly even what our parents or grandparents ate. As surprising as it sounds, a pregnant woman’s diet and lifestyle, as well as the diet of an infant in his or her first years of life, may shape the child’s lifelong health or cause them to be more disease prone, not [more…]
When it comes to reproductive health, it’s no secret that a pregnant mother’s choices and environment can severely impact her child’s epigenetics and health—especially mothers suffering from PTSD. But it turns out fathers who have suffered significant stress early on in their life may also epigenetically impact the physical and mental health of their offspring. It was previously thought that fathers only passed DNA to the mother’s egg during fertilization, but it was recently discovered that sperm also contributes miRNA, [more…]
Exercising your body and your brain are two ways to improve your own health. It’s well known that physical and mental activity can boost learning ability and reduce risk for diseases such as Alzheimer’s. But, could doing so also directly benefit your future children? New research in Cell Reports indicates that a child’s capacity for learning could actually be boosted as a result of the physical and mental exercise that their parents carried out before they were born. Researchers are [more…]
There is strong evidence that suggests certain environmental or lifestyle factors may lead to increased risk of developing chronic diseases. These factors such as diet, behavior, stress, exposure to pollutants, and physical activity have been known to cause epigenetic changes which may be passed down from one generation to the next. It is believed that a father’s exposure to environmental factors can play a role in an offspring’s epigenetic patterns and health. Recent evidence suggests that sperm epigenetic modifications can [more…]
When the Twin Towers came down in 2001, it was one of the most shocking moments in human history. This brazen act of terror traumatized an entire population. For those who lost friends, family, and acquaintances in the tragedy, it was an enormous cause of stress, grief and general departure from a normal state of being. Among the affected, many were pregnant women – some of whom developed PTSD after the incident. As reported in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology [more…]
Egg cells, or oocytes, are made inside a female’s body before she is even born and they must be kept in a state of equilibrium or stasis during her childhood. Eventually, they can transition to mature eggs when needed as an adult. If the eggs do not go into stasis, however, they will never be able to eventually form into a baby. New research in Nature Structural and Molecular Biology explores the influence of epigenetics on egg cell stasis and [more…]
You might be familiar with the popular epigenetic study that suggests when mother rats lick their pups, they leave epigenetic marks on their babies’ DNA. This, in turn, helps them grow up to be calm adults. On the other hand, pups who receive very little licking, grooming, or nursing from their moms tend to grow up more anxious. It wasn’t their genes that dictated their stressed-out behavior, but their epigenome, which was shaped by the nurturing behavior of their mother [more…]
The Mediterranean diet has been associated with reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, and metabolic syndrome. Taking this a step further, research is now pointing to the epigenetic benefits abiding by a Mediterranean diet could have while pregnant. The main components of this healthy eating pattern might epigenetically protect the fetus from developing diseases later in life by adjusting what are called histone modifications. Inspired by the ancient communities like Greece, Spain, and Italy, this diet emphasizes [more…]