Male parent stress levels can affect those of children

Stress felt by the father of a child throughout his life can affect the offspring’s brain development.

This is according to new research published in the Journal of Neuroscience by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, who found that rats who exhibited stress derived from sudden moves to other cages and the presence of predator odour passed on negative traits to their children .

Scientists found offspring of the rodents had significantly blunted levels of corticosterone – the hormone that makes us feel stress and anxiety.

Researchers then took a sample of the fathering rat’s sperm and found there were differences in the structure of the DNA compared to those without high stress levels.

Lab rodents are used by scientists because of their genetic similarities to humans so it may be the case these findings could be applied to adult male parents.

Professor Tracy Bale, one of the study’s leaders, said: “We have shown here for the first time that stress can produce long-term changes to sperm that reprogram the offspring HPA stress axis regulation.”

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