Unsupportive parenting has several negative health implications for children, says a study conducted by Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center, USA. The study found that the telomeres — protective caps on the ends of the strands of DNA — of subjects who considered their mothers’ parenting style as ‘cold’ were on average 25 percent smaller than those who reported having mothers with ‘warm’ parenting style. Shorter telomeres are a measurable biomarker of accelerated cellular aging and increased disease susceptibility in adult life.
“Telomeres are often described as a genetic clock. Now we know that as early life stress increases, telomeres shorten and the risk of a host of diseases increases, as well as premature death,” says lead author Raymond Knutsen, associate professor at Loma Linda University School of Public Health. “The way someone is raised seems to tell a story that is intertwined with their genetics,” she adds.