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Study shows males exposed to chronic stress have anxious daughters

Tests conducted on mice show psychiatric disorders may depend on our fathers’ experiences in their youth.

Image: RenaudPhoto via Flickr

A NEW STUDY conducted in mice suggests a woman’s risk of heightened anxiety and social deficits could be related to chronic stress during their father’s adolescence and early adulthood.

The research was conducted by Tufts University School of Medicine and was published online in Biological Psychiatry.

The article said social instability during a person’s youth is known to produce long lasting effects that may contribute to future psychiatric disorders but the potential of this to affect future generations has not been tested before.

Male and female mice were exposed to chronic stress involving social instability from 27 days old to 76 days old. After this the mice were used to evaluate the long term effects of the stress exposure on multiple generations of their offspring.

The results of the tests show that this exposure to stress produced behavioural changes that were passed on predominantly to females across at least three generations.

Both male and female parents passed on these altered behaviours to their immediate offspring. However males in the resulting offspring transmitted this behaviour to both their daughters and granddaughters.

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The findings support the idea that the risk of anxiety related psychiatric disorders may be dependent not only on genes passed on and one’s own experience, but also on the experiences of a person’s parents when they are young.

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