Children who are abused might carry the imprint of that trauma in their cells—a biochemical marking that is detectable years later. (…) It’s conceivable that the correlations we found between methylation and child abuse might provide a percentage probability that abuse had occurred. (…) Methylation acts as a “dimmer switch” on genes, affecting the degree to which a particular gene is activated or not. Scientists are increasingly looking at this turning on and turning off of genes, known as epigenetics, because it’s believed to be influenced by external forces—a person’s environment or life experiences. (…) The study (…) does not demonstrate long-term physical consequences of child abuse, because it’s still unknown how methylation of those genetic regions affects a person’s health. (…) Scientists don’t know if methylation patterns survive the messy process of fertilization and thus can be passed down to a person’s children.
Source: University of British Columbia
Original Research: Open access research for “Exposure to childhood abuse is associated with human sperm DNA methylation” by Andrea L. Roberts, Nicole Gladish, Evan Gatev, Meaghan J. Jones, Ying Chen, Julia L. MacIsaac, Shelley S. Tworoger, S. Bryn Austin, Cigdem Tanrikut, Jorge E. Chavarro, Andrea A. Baccarelli & Michael S. Kobor in Translational Psychiatry. Published October 2 2018.