Children who witness violence at home, including a parent’s incarceration, physical abuse, or violent death may develop a genetic “marker” that puts them at higher risk of developing a range of health problems later in life. Obesity, heart disease, and diabetes may be more likely to develop, along with psychological issues like depression and anxiety, according to new research published in the journal Pediatrics. More from The Wall Street Journal:
The study’s lead author, Tulane professor Stacy Drury, took a closer look at a genetic marker that’s been linked with negative health outcomes later in life: the length of a person’s telomeres.
Telomeres are DNA elements that cap the ends of chromosomes, and they become shorter when cells divide and age. But shorter telomere lengths have also been associated with stress-related diseases such as obesity, cardiovascular disease and diabetes.
The study surveyed and tested the DNA of 80 kids between the ages of 5 and 15 in New Orleans; those who had experienced more family-related violence at home were found to have shorter telomeres.
“The more adverse childhood events you have when you’re little, the greater the risk of pretty much any health condition when you get older,” Drury said in an interview. “That’s a biological type of scar that happens when you’re a kid.”
An Argentine girl has died after an apparent attack by bullies who allegedly inflicted severe violence on the 17-year-old. CNN has more:
Naira Cofreces died Sunday of multiple injuries, including bruising to the left side of her brain, officials said.
“First there was a verbal altercation and then she was kicked, punched and Naira’s head was smashed against a wall,” Judge Maria Laura Durante told Telam, the Argentine state news agency. The judge also said this is a case of “aggravated homicide because there might’ve been premeditation.”
Officials say the teen was attacked last Wednesday at about 10 p.m., after leaving the night school she attended in the city of Junín, about 260 kilometers (161 miles) west of Buenos Aires. Her attackers, ages 17, 22 and 29, were waiting for her after school. The two younger ones were her classmates. All three have been arrested and charged with aggravated homicide, authorities said.
“There’s no clear motive. We have testimony that suggests the motive could’ve been another girl or because they (the victim and her friends) acted as if they were more beautiful than the rest and dressed better than them,” Durante told Telam.
A close friend of Cofreces told CNN affiliate Channel 9 the dispute started over differences that the victim and her alleged attackers had over looks and demeanor.
“She (one of the attackers) would tell her that she had a snobby face, an old woman’s face, that she thought she was more beautiful than her and that she walked as if she were a model. That’s how the whole problem started,” said the friend, who was not identified because she’s a minor.
Cofreces went home after the attack, but was taken to Agudos General Hospital the following morning. “She came the day after she was beaten up, we did a tomography and discovered a big hematoma on the left side of her brain, so we decided to operate,” Dr. Carlos Garbe told Telam.
A new tomography revealed more bruising of the brain. leading to a second surgery. “After the second surgery, she continued to show complications which worsened until she died,” Garbe said.
Fewer children ages 4 to 7 died in car accidents after states passed booster seat laws, with the most noticeable results in the 6- and 7-year-old age range, according to a new study in the journal Pediatrics.
The study found that between 1999 and 2009, states which required booster seats saw an 11% decrease in the number of child traffic deaths versus those without a law. Once some state laws developed to include 6- and 7-year-olds, death rates dropped nearly one-quarter in states with a mandate as compared to those without.
“This [study] shows that it’s kids at the upper end of the age range who could benefit the most,” said senior researcher Dr. Lois K. Lee of Children’s Hospital Boston. While Lee acknowledges that getting an older child to agree to get in a booster seat may be challenging, she has advice for parents: “They can tell their child it’s the law.”