Kids who experience severe stress are more likely to develop a host of physical and mental health problems by the time they reach adulthood, including anxiety, depression and mood disorders. But how does early life stress put children at risk when they grow up? To find out, researchers from the University of Wisconsin–Madison compared the whole genomes of children with very high-stress early lives to those of kids whose childhoods were relatively tranquil. They found scores of differences in how their genes function, differences that may point out avenues to better diagnosis and treatment of stress-related disorders. Their work, supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, was published today (July 17, 2018) in the journal Scientific Reports.
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