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Edin and Shaefer's book a call to action for Americans to deal with poverty

Weir says pain may underlie rise in suicide and substance-related deaths among white middle-aged Americans

Weitzman says China's one-child policy has had devastating effects on first-born daughters


MCubed opens for new round of seed funding, November 4-18

PSC News, fall 2015 now available

Barbara Anderson appointed chair of Census Scientific Advisory Committee

John Knodel honored by Thailand's Chulalongkorn University

Next Brown Bag

Monday, Dec 7 at noon, 6050 ISR-Thompson
Daniel Eisenberg, "Healthy Minds Network: Mental Health among College-Age Populations"


Children's telomere length and social disadvantage

4/18/2014 feature story

Colter Mitchell and colleagues found that 9-year olds growing up in highly disadvantaged environments had shorter telomeres than their highly advantaged counterparts, with genetic sensitivity having a moderating effect.

More Information.

Colter Mitchell

Publication Information:

Mitchell, Colter, John Hobcraft, Sara McLanahan, Susan Rutherford Siegel, Arthur Berg, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Irwin Garfinkel, and Daniel Notterman. 2014. "Social disadvantage, genetic sensitivity, and children’s telomere length." Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111(16): 5944-5949. PMCID: PMC4000782.

Disadvantaged social environments are associated with adverse health outcomes. This has been attributed, in part, to chronic stress. Telomere length (TL) has been used as a biomarker of chronic stress: TL is shorter in adults in a variety of contexts, including disadvantaged social standing and depression. Using data from 40, 9-year-old boys participating in the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, we show that those who grow up in highly disadvantaged environments have shorter telomeres than boys who grow up in highly advantaged environments. We also find that the association between the social environment and TL is moderated by genetic variation within the serotonin and dopamine pathways. Boys with the highest genetic sensitivity scores had the shortest TL when exposed to disadvantaged environments and the longest TL when exposed to advantaged environments. To our knowledge, this report is the first to document a gene–social environment interaction for TL, a biomarker of stress exposure.

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