Dads can pass trauma, lifestyle and diet to their children through their sperm, study says


(Picture: Getty)

We know babies inherit genes from their parents but they don’t tend to be environmental factors carried on from parent to children.

But a new study shows that sperm can pass traumas that men have experienced in their lives, as well as other lifestyle choices such as diet to their kids.

Sperms carry ‘epigenetic’ marks the determine how a child’s cells develop, according to researchers at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Their research comes after a study showed that sons of Union Army soldiers had a higher risk of an earlier death if their dads experienced brutal conditions as prisoners of war.

(Picture: Getty)

The research on mice and humans found that 10% of epigenetic information is contained in sperm.

Dr Susan Strome tested epigenetic information in sperm, known as ‘histone packaging’, in her lab to see the effect on subjects.

She found that once they removed the epigenetic marker called H3K27me3 which is known for repressing gene expression from subjects, they became infertile.

So they realised that the marker is important for the offspring’s development.

‘These findings show that the DNA packaging in sperm is important, because offspring that did not inherit normal sperm epigenetic marks were sterile, and it is sufficient for normal germline development,’ Dr. Strome said.

‘The goal is to analyse how the chromatin packaging changes in the parent,’ she said.

‘Whatever gets passed on to the offspring has to go through the germ cells. We want to know which cells experience the environmental factors, how they transmit that information to the germ cells, what changes in the germ cells, and how that impacts the offspring.’

Trauma – which we consider to be a lifestyle experience – can have long-lasting effects on a person and then be passed down to their children.

The medical community is now accepting that those who’ve endured painful memories can be left with a lingering impact the brain which may limit their ability to create memories.

Being on high alert as well, due to the trauma – whether from sexual abuse, death of a loved one, difficult upbringings – can then change the way cells develop which can be inherited by children who have not experienced it.

Other studies support the claims as they show even fears can be inherited by those who have not experienced the pain of a phobia themselves but are still triggered by stimulation.

Another study showed how Finnish children separated from their parents during the Second World War had higher rates of psychiatric hospitalisation.

The results of Dr. Strome and others will certainly be interesting in how we address traumas experienced by individuals.

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