Stress in women either before or during pregnancy can increase the risk of preterm birth and accelerate aging in their offspring.
Why do some people age faster than others? One potential answer, a new UCLA-led study indicates, is that a mother’s stress prior to giving birth may accelerate her child’s biological aging.
The researchers found evidence that maternal stress adversely affects the length of a baby’s telomeres — the small pieces of DNA at the ends of chromosomes that act as protective caps, like the plastic tips on shoelaces. Shortened telomeres have been linked to a higher risk of cancers, cardiovascular and other diseases, and earlier death.