Phew! I'm safe—or am I? Or rather was I, fifty years ago? But let's consider the latest finding.
Early studies have pointed to devastating events such as famine scarring future generations, making them more prone to obesity and diabetes. Now scientists at the University of Cambridge have discovered genetic faults caused by trauma, poor lifestyle or environmental stress can be passed down to future generations.
Although the same genes are passed down through generations, scientists now know that our DNA is constantly altered by environment, lifestyle and traumatic events. It is thought that these changes drive disease, premature ageing and early death.
Rather than these faults being wiped away, scientists have found that in some areas of DNA, including those linked to mental illness and obesity, some aberrations remain. In fact, around five per cent of our genetic code carries traces of past events, leaving a devastating legacy for children and grandchildren. Source: The Telegraph.
That led to DNA fingerprinting, also called DNA typing, DNA profiling, genetic fingerprinting, genotyping, or identity testing, in genetics, method of isolating and identifying variable elements within the base-pair sequence of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
Where would films like Jurrasic Park or crime TV programs be without DNA use or testing?
But what about you and me?
On considering, my lifestyle as a teenager held my children in good stead. Pregnant nine months after my marriage at 18 years, my life consisted of good choices. We didn't have junk food back then, and my home life, although stressful after my father's abandonment, contained both supportive parents in different locations.
My husband, a proud, strong youth at the peak of physical fitness had suffered several traumas, for which I tried to compensate. Would preventing his mother from committing suicide and then losing her at the age of fourteen be sufficient trauma to change his DNA? How about when he saw his friend taken by a shark on the surfboard beside him?
He went on to develop the mental illness bipolar. My children were affected. One lost his life as a consequence of crime, one daughter through illness, and the third now suffers with depression.
What about environmental stress? Can children raised in poor areas overcome their start in life?
Poor lifestyle would encompass the use of recreational drugs, scrounging for food, and living close to electrical generators or polluted air.
We can't control some of fortune's blows. But we should bear in mind that whatever we do to our body will have consequences.
Think hard. What events in your youth would affect future generations?