Neglect shortens kid telomeres

Young kids that spend more time in institutional care have shorter telomeres than those raised in foster care

Hannah Waters
May 16, 2011
Adversity early in life takes its toll on one's chromosomes: A study of 100 Romanian children found that the more time children spend in institutional orphanages before the age of 5, the shorter their telomeres.
Telomeres on the ends of chromosomes, here white
Image: Wikimedia commons
While previous studies have found that telomere length in adulthood correlated with self-reported childhood stress, the new linkurl:research,;http://www.nature.com/mp/journal/vaop/ncurrent/full/mp201153a.html published today (May 17) in Molecular Psychiatry, is the first to quantify the immediate impact of early life hardship on telomere length."This is an exciting study with sound methodology that adds to the very recent body of work demonstrating effects of childhood adversity on telomere shortening," linkurl:Audrey Tyrka,;http://research.brown.edu/research/profile.php?id=1127415688 who was not involved with the study and studies human behavior and psychiatry at Brown University, said in an email to The Scientist. "[It] is of great interest because it focuses on institutionalized children who are...
S.S. Drury et al., "Telomere length and early severe social deprivation: linking early adversity and cellular aging," Molecular Psychiatry, doi: 10.1038/mp.2011.53, 2011.Biological Psychiatry 67PLoS ONEJournal of Developmental and Behavioral PediatricsJournal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry