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.
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…]
New epigenetic research conducted by scientists at the University of Massachusetts suggests that a father’s environment can affect the health of his baby via epigenetic marks in his sperm. Specifically, male exposure to phthalates, which are endocrine disruptors found in plastics, personal care products like shaving cream, and in the environment that surrounds us, were found to have an impact on a couples’ success when having children. Led by Richard Pilsner, an environmental health scientist, this ongoing study supported by [more…]
Even though it’s common for expectant mothers to have low vitamin D levels, it’s essential to the health and proper development of the baby. A low amount of vitamin D is associated with poor fetal growth, childhood obesity, bone density, and bone mineral content. Interestingly, key functions of the placenta – like transporting nutrients to the growing baby – are controlled by the expression of genes, which is mediated by vitamin D. Researchers have now discovered that this vitamin might [more…]
Exposure to environmental pollution, such as diesel exhaust or concentrated urban air particles, during pregnancy could increase a child’s risk of developing asthma via epigenetic mechanisms. Recent research in the Journal of Physiology – Lung Cellular and Molecular Physiology suggests that this allergic susceptibility might even be epigenetically passed down for several generations. Asthma forms as a result of the complex interaction between someone’s genes, epigenetic marks, and the environment. Epigenetics, the study of how chemical tags impact the expression [more…]
Marks on a baby’s DNA might be able to predict whether he or she may develop conduct problems later in life, suggests new research published in Development and Psychopathology. Conduct problems — such as lying, stealing, and fighting — fit into a spectrum of behavioral and emotional issues found in youngsters in which basic social rules or the rights of others are violated. These behaviors are known to have a link to genetic factors and environmental influences. Now, there may [more…]
We often think that taking supplements is a good thing – but what if we consume too much? And could doing so negatively affect our children? Researchers from the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) found that fathers who consumed an excessive amount of certain supplements could epigenetically harm their offspring, affecting their children’s memory and learning ability. As we know, a mother has profound impact on her children and their development. Epigenetic research has shown that mothers can influence [more…]
Stories about a mysterious tool that can cut out and replace genes have crept out from behind the lab walls and entered boldly into the public spotlight. Nowadays, CRISPR is everywhere. And we can’t help but let our imaginations wander, especially when the questions posed by this novel gene editing technology come straight out of a sci-fi movie. Can we edit out bad genes that cause diseases in humans and replace them with healthy ones? Might parents be able to [more…]
Fifty years ago, a child diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of pediatric cancer, had little to no chance of survival. Today, those odds have increased dramatically thanks to tremendous advances in chemotherapy and other treatments. Cure rates for this type of leukemia can reach as high as 90 percent. Yet, there is one subgroup of pediatric ALL that is still very therapy resistant, T-Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (T-ALL). T-ALL is an uncommon, though aggressive, subclass of [more…]