Children growing up in socioeconomically disadvantaged families and from marginalized racial/ethnic groups tend to have epigenetic profiles associated with a faster pace of biological aging




Raffington, Laurel
Tanksley, Peter T.
Sabhlok, Aditi
Vinnik, Liza
Mallard, Travis
King, Lucy S.
Goosby, Bridget
Harden, Kathryn P.
Tucker-Drob, Elliot M.

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University of Texas at Austin Population Research Center



To better understand how social inequalities become embedded in the body and impact the mind across the lifespan, researchers can study a child’s epigenetic profile – a score based on markers on the DNA that turn genes “on” or “off.” In this brief, former Population Research Center Postdoctoral Fellow Laurel Raffington, along with CAPS Faculty Affiliates Elliot Tucker-Drob and Bridget Goosby and colleagues, took DNA-methylation samples from the saliva of young people participating in the Texas Twin Project to create epigenetic profiles. They found that the epigenetic profiles of children from disadvantaged backgrounds looked worse than those of other children, including a faster pace of biological aging, higher chronic inflammation, and lower cognitive functioning. The authors argue that, to decrease disparities in the cognitive and physical health of adults, interventions to reduce educational, nutritional, and environmental disparities need to start in childhood.

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