New Study Violence Affects Dna In Children

04.24.12 | Jeremy Miller

Domestic Violence

A new study suggests that violence has a damaging effect on the DNA of children.  Researchers say it can cause changes that are similar to seven-to-ten years of premature aging.  Scientists measured cellular aging by looking at the ends of children's chromosomes, called telomeres.  They examined whether exposure to violence could make the telomeres in children shorter more quickly than normal.  The study's lead author, Idan Shalev at the Duke Institute for Genome Sciences & Policy in Durham, North Carolina, says telomeres became shorter more rapidly in children exposed to two or more types of violence.  Shalev says unless the pattern changes, the kids are at risk to develop diseases of aging, such as heart attack or memory loss, earlier than their peers.  The research is published in "Molecular Psychiatry."