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Aging Roundup

December 18, 2009

A sign of premature aging shows up in the DNA of people who were abused as children.

Transcript

Aging from anguish. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Inside our cells are chromosomes that contain our genetic material. And on each end of our chromosomes are telomeres—specialized DNA that protects the genetic code within. Over time, our telomeres break down, and our cells can’t divide properly. The results are the tell tale signs of aging. Recently, researchers at Brown College found that the telomeres of adults who reported having suffered abuse as children were shorter than those of others. That could mean they’ll suffer the effects of aging earlier—and suggests that growing up in an abusive environment can have physical, as well as psychological, consequences.

In other research, Yale scientists have found that autistic kids do significantly better if their parents get structured training on dealing with the disorder. Kids of parents who got the training had fewer behavioral problems and required significantly less medication. I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.