Your neighborhood could alter your genetic expression! A long-term study in the UK, published in the Jama Network Open found that children who grew up in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods showed differences in their gene regulations in their youth. These results show that children’s neighborhoods can influence their growth in ways that we had not previously foreseen. Their environment could impact their adult health.
The cohort study involved 1619 children from England and Wales. The researchers used the Environmental Risk (E-Risk) Longitudinal Twin Study. It is a cohort study that tracks children born between 1994 and 1995. Follow-ups are carried from age 5 to 18 years. The information included DNA methylation data. The participants were picked from different socioeconomic conditions in the UK.
The research team found that children who grew up in socioeconomically disadvantaged neighborhoods showed a differential DNA methylation. The altered genes were associated with exposure to tobacco smoke, air pollution, chronic inflammation, and lung cancer. While the underlying genetic structure may not change, the findings indicated that epigenetics or genetic expressions could change. These results also show how such children were epigenetically distinct from peers that grew up in a more privileged environment.