How Bullying and Abuse May Age Children Prematurely

Alice Park

A hard life can age you, literally, researchers say. In fact, children who are exposed to violence at a young age show changes in their DNA equivalent to several years of premature aging.

That’s the finding of an international group of scientists who analyzed data from the Environmental Risk Study (E-Risk), which tracked 2,232 children born between 1994 and 1995 in England and Wales. The researchers focused on 236 children whom they followed from age 5 to 10. Nearly half of the children had had some exposure to violence, either in the form of observing violent acts against their mother, being bullied themselves, or being the victim of aggressive acts by an adult.

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