Children who suffer abuse are more likely to age faster, while those who endure food insecurity or neglect may develop more slowly, according to new research led by the University of Washington.
Violence, psychological or emotional abuse, deprivation and neglect or other adverse childhood experiences can affect epigenetic, or cellular, ageing and biological development, the study finds.
The new study links violence exposure in childhood with accelerated ageing and demonstrates that different forms of adversity during childhood have different impacts on the ageing process.
Findings suggest that some forms of early adversity accelerate the aging process beginning very early in life, which may contribute to the high rates of health problems commonly observed among children who experience adversity, says Katie McLaughlin, now an assistant professor at Harvard University who led the study.
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