Adults who grew up in poverty show changes in the "programming" of their DNA that may be linked to health problems such as obesity and autoimmune diseases, Canadian and British researchers have found.
Researchers had previously known that DNA is "programmed" in the womb to turn certain genes up or down, and more recently have shown that some programming can continue into childhood and adulthood.
The impact is this
He added that the impact of poverty during childhood on the DNA methylation was found to be much greater than the impact of a person’s economic circumstances as an adult, or other factors such as whether the mother smoked while pregnant.
Some health problems, such as autoimmune diseases (where a person’s immune system attacks their own body), may be common among poor people now because they live differently than poor people in the past, Syzf suggested. For example, today’s less well off exist in a much cleaner environment, at least in most Western societies.
"Essentially, you have an immune system that’s programmed to deal with something that was anticipated but never happens. And now that immune system starts working against itself."