Menu

Transgenerational Trauma Passed Down from WWII Evacuees

The daughters of Finnish women separated from their parents as children during World War II have higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization than those born to women who had not been evacuated.

Nov 29, 2017
Jef Akst

Finnish children evacuated to Stockholm during World War IIWIKIMEDIA, TORE BURNÄSPrevious research has shown that the 50,000 Finnish children evacuated from their home country and sent to temporary foster care in Sweden during the Second World War had higher rates of psychiatric hospitalization compared with those who stayed with their parents. Now, a study published today (November 29) in JAMA Psychiatry suggests the same is true of the daughters of female evacuees, suggesting that trauma can be passed down through the generations.

“Many studies have shown that traumatic exposures during pregnancy can have negative effects on offspring,” coauthor Stephen Gilman, an epidemiologist at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, says in a press release. “Here, we found evidence that a mother’s childhood traumatic exposure—in this case separation from family members during war—may have long-lasting health consequences for her daughters.”

But whether the effect is due to something related to the offspring’s DNA is unclear, Gilman tells Newsweek. It’s possible that epigenetic differences were passed on through the oocyte. For example, previous work has found higher levels of methylation on certain genes that lead to altered cortisol production in Holocaust survivors. Alternatively, the children of evacuees may have suffered as a result of higher rates of mood disorders and psychiatric hospitalization of their mothers, and how that affected their parenting.

See “Ghosts in the Genome

“The Finnish evacuation was intended to protect children from the many harms associated with the country’s wars with the Soviet Union,” coauthor Torsten Santavirta of Uppsala University says in the press release. “Our observation of long-term psychiatric risk that reached into the next generation is concerning and underscores the need to weigh benefits as well as potential risks when designing policies for child protection.”

February 2019

Big Storms Brewing

Can forests weather more major hurricanes?

Marketplace

Sponsored Product Updates

Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Releases First FDA-Cleared Digital PCR System and Test for Monitoring Chronic Myeloid Leukemia Treatment Response
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb), a global leader of life science research and clinical diagnostic products, today announced that its QXDx AutoDG ddPCR System, which uses Bio-Rad’s Droplet Digital PCR technology, and the QXDx BCR-ABL %IS Kit are the industry’s first digital PCR products to receive U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance. Used together, Bio-Rad’s system and kit can precisely and reproducibly monitor molecular response to treatment in patients with chronic myeloid leukemia (CML).
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Showcases New Automation Features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer at SLAS 2019
Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc. (NYSE: BIO and BIOb) today showcases new automation features of its ZE5 Cell Analyzer during the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening 2019 International Conference and Exhibition (SLAS) in Washington, D.C., February 2–6. These capabilities enable the ZE5 to be used for high-throughput flow cytometry in biomarker discovery and phenotypic screening.
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Andrew Alliance and Sartorius Collaborate to Provide Software-Connected Pipettes for Life Science Research
Researchers to benefit from an innovative software-connected pipetting system, bringing improved reproducibility and traceability of experiments to life-science laboratories.
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Life Sciences to Feature 3D Cell Culture Technologies at SLAS 2019
Corning Incorporated (NYSE: GLW) will showcase advanced 3D cell culture technologies and workflow solutions for spheroids, organoids, tissue models, and applications including ADME/toxicology at the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS) conference, Feb. 2-6 in Washington, D.C.