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Please Sir, May I Have Some Longer Telomeres?

A recent article in Molecular Psychiatry shows that stress in childhood shortens a person's telomeres and affects their health as they grow, says Nature's Marian Turner. The researchers studied children in state-run Romanian orphanages and determined that they had shorter telomeres than children who grew up in foster care. Tulane University's Stacy Drury, one of the lead authors on the study, says the research shows that being in institutional care can affect children "right down to the molecular level." The team says children's health could be improved if they are moved from an orphanage to a family environment, Turner says, and other experts believe that the telomere shortening could even be reversed if the environment changes. Drury and her team have received funding from NIH to do a follow-up study on the Romanian children. "The follow-up study might also help to answer the question of whether shorter telomeres are a cause or an effect of poor health. The researchers have cognitive and physical health records from the children from multiple ages and are analyzing whether children from the two groups differ in terms of mental development and physical health," Turner adds.

HT: Scientific American

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