martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

Loss of a father leaves its mark in the child's DNA | MercatorNet |

Loss of a father leaves its mark in the child's DNA

Loss of a father leaves its mark in the child’s DNA

Stress produces an effect similar to ageing.
Carolyn Moynihan | Aug 29 2017 | comment 

A fascinating piece of research related to father loss is highlighted by an article at Family Studies. Most studies of the effects on a child losing his or her father through death, divorce or incarceration, rely on survey questions to measure health.
But the new research, published in the US journal Pediatrics  this month, took a biological approach, using DNA samples from children and examining telomere length. The results were significant, as co-author Daniel Notterman explained to IFS editor Alysse ElHage.
The children were from a group of nearly 5000 born between 1998 and 2000 (about three-quarters of them to unmarried parents) and being followed by the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. These families are called fragile because they are at greater risk of breaking up.
The DNA samples were taken when the children were 9 and again when they were 15.
Unless you know something about inner workings of DNA you may not have come across the term telomere. This is a structure found at the ends of chromosomes and its function is to protect the end of the chromosome from deterioration or from fusion with neighbouring chromosomes. Shortening of telomeres is associated with ageing, but also with chronic stress in both adults and children.
The researchers hypothesised that father loss would be associated with telomere attrition, and so it turned out to be. Since chronic stress is also linked with heart disease and behavioural issues, it is not clear whether accelerated telomere attrition is just a biomarker for these other health effects, or actually plays a causal role, says Notterman.
“In either case, by examining telomere length, we get an early window … into adverse health effects that may not be recognised for many years.”
Even more interesting is that differing amounts of telomere attrition in the children were linked with the different reasons for father absence. At this point you might expect to read, as I did,  that divorce/separation had the severest effect on children’s health, since this is what other studies have found on comparing divorce with a father’s death. It seems plausible, in that a father cannot be blamed for dying, whereas a child may feel rejected if his father leaves the home.
However, the biological evidence in this study shows otherwise.
A father’s death had the strongest impact, with an average telomere length reduction of 16 percent. This was followed by incarceration of the father (10 percent) and divorce or separation (6 percent). The average reduction was 14 percent.
Notterman explains these results:
“We conjecture that loss of a father due to death is a more potent stress because it completely ends the relationship between father and child. With separation and incarceration, it is still possible for there to be contact between father and child. Fathers who are separated from the family often maintain contact with a biological child, and incarceration may be limited in time.”
Studies that rely exclusively on survey questions may underestimate the impact of a father’s death.  
Another important finding is that the effect of father loss was 40 percent greater for boys than for girls – something the researchers were not looking for but which they put down to the absence of specific role-modelling in a boys’ lives.
In addition, father loss due to the dissolution of the relationship between the parents has its strongest effect through reducing family income. However, income played only a small role as a stressor when it came to death or incarceration of the father: the loss itself  was a “much more potent stress.”
Notterman concludes:
“We think that our findings reinforce the growing understanding of a father’s importance in the life of his children. We do not think that our data support a conclusion that one type of relationship between a child’s parents is more favorable than another; rather, we conclude that a central role for the father is optimal for his child’s well-being. Furthermore, we think that this knowledge should inform public policy in providing support to families and children where the father, for one reason or another, is absent from his children.”
There is no encouragement here for making peace with new family forms that exclude a child’s father, either by deliberate choice or by default. When it happens it is a loss to the child. Common sense tells us this, and now, so can his or her DNA.


August 29, 2017

Facebook has just tweaked its system to crack down on "fake news". “False news is harmful to our community,” the company’s announcement states. “It makes the world less informed and erodes trust.”

But is internet fake news any worse than the scurrilous rubbish which used to be sold in supermarkets? The real question is whether fake news is a threat to democracy. And it seems that it isn't. Very little serious research has been done on this issue, but one academic concluded that "What we found calls into question the severity of the fake news crisis." Read all about it. 

Michael Cook
Is fake news a fake problem?
By Michael Cook
There's very little proof that 'fake news' influenced the outcome of the 2016 US election
Read the full article
Loss of a father leaves its mark in the child’s DNA
By Carolyn Moynihan
Stress produces an effect similar to ageing.
Read the full article
If you must tear down offensive statues, please be consistent
By J. Budziszewski
The images of a racist birth control pioneer should go too.
Read the full article
Botching abortions in Britain, taking their ‘services’ to the world
By Philippa Taylor
Marie Stopes International had 373 abortion failures in one month in the UK, a recent review found.
Read the full article
Should conservatives rally ‘round the rainbow flag?
By Michael Cook
The federal president of the Australian Liberal Party says Yes
Read the full article
Charlottesville and the Age of Hubris
By Ray Pennings
The triumph of feelings over discourse.
Read the full article
U.S. Muslims believe in American Dream
By Shannon Roberts
Findings from Pew Research Center’s 2017 survey.
Read the full article
Elder abuse – a real and present danger
By Paul Russell
What if the children need their assets?
Read the full article
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Loss of a father leaves its mark in the child's DNA

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