Can trauma be passed genetically?
Research from 2019Trusted Source found that stress during pregnancy is one way intergenerational trauma can be passed down. Parental stress during pregnancy is associated with children who have:
autism spectrum disorders
attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
Researchers first discoveredTrusted Source the generational impact of trauma on the children of people who lived through the Dutch famine (the “Hunger Winter”) during World War II.
Several studies conducted in the 1970s found that the children of pregnant women during this famine were more prone to higher-than-average body mass and diabetes, thus forming the basis for future research on intergenerational, or transgenerational, trauma.
When researchers from Columbia University studied the death records of children of the Dutch famine for a 2013 study, they found that prenatal famine was linked to lower mortality.
Scientists also found that trauma can have a generational impact when they studied the children of Holocaust survivors, as one 2015 study found.
The study mentioned an association between prenatal trauma and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and anxiety in children.
A 2018 reviewTrusted Source suggests a link between intergenerational trauma and depression, too. They found evidence that trauma can be passed between generations epigenetically, which means that trauma experienced by an ancestor might affect the way your genes are expressed.
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This looks like a great study. Thanks for sharing. I learned a little bit about this myself in my Health Psych class...they made us do the generational tree exercise and link any past trauma, stress, drug addiction, mental disorders etc on there, it was interesting to learn so much about my own generational stuff, but also about my classmates, yet also amazing to see how things are passed down and how clearly you can see it in the tree. Sometimes entire generational stories were repeated. Similar events and situations.
Thanks for sharing, I really wasn't expecting this!