THE 2015 STUDY
Some time back, a 2015 finding suggested that there is behavioural epigenetics experienced and that affects the genes of the future generation. After studying the genes of 32 Jewish women and men, the results were published by Rachael Yehuda and her team from New York’s Icahn School of Medicine.
The research team examined the genes from children of Holocaust survivors to further cement their findings. They studied genes from twenty-two such children. The research findings indicated that if parents have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, the children from Holocaust survivors showed chances of developing it too.
The team’s work indicated the presence of epigenetic inheritance which passes down trauma to a child. This idea also propagated that stress, dieting or smoking can affect the genes of future generations. Their study showed that Holocaust survivors and their children had epigenetic tags on the gene associated with stress hormone.
IT’S EFFECT ON DNA
The concept of behavioural epigenetics was considered to be extremely controversial since the only known way of transmission of biological information between generations lay in the genes in DNA. Environment affects our genes and chemical tags latch on to our DNA. The study indicated that these tags pass on to future generations.
OTHER STUDIES INDICATING THE SAME
Dutch women pregnant during the famine in World War II gave birth to girls who had a high risk of developing schizophrenia. Another example showed that heavier sons were born to men who smoked before hitting puberty.
THE 2017 RESULTS
Experts have now found flaws in the prevailing 2015 behavioural epigenetics theory. They claimed that the sample size taken was small and the study was flawed. They even debunked the theory by saying that only study of great-grandchildren of survivors can prove epigenetics. During pregnancy, a woman carries DNA for her grandchildren only. In order for the study to work, the DNA of great-grandchildren should show the similar changes.
The study didn’t even take into account the social factors. For example, the children of Holocaust survivors grow up listening to the horrors of the event. The 2015 study was debunked as a fascinating story which drew conclusions from studies which could not be properly interpreted.
The verdict lay that the children of Holocaust survivors and other tragedies haven’t inherited any kind of trauma from their parents.