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Maternal behavior leaves long-lasting memories in the offspring DNA

We all know how crucial is maternal caregiving behavior for the growth and well-being of huamn infants and children. But which are the mechanisms through which the quality of caregiving environment is passed to the subsequent generation? In this recent systematic review we report evidence on the role played by gene-specific DNA methylation in linking maternal caregiving behavior and the offspring behavioral, emotional and cognitive development in humans. Consistent with evidence from animal model research, the quality of maternal caregiving in humans associates with substantial variations in DNA methylation status of specific genes involved in children development and might partially buffer the association between early adversities and detrimental consequences for health and well-being. These findings are crucial to develop evidence-based and developmentally sensitive approaches to early family-centered interventions for children and parents at risk.


How to cite: Provenzi L, Brambilla M, Scotto di Minico G, Montirosso R, Borgatti R (2019) Maternal caregiving and DNA methylation in human infants and children: Systematic review. Genes, Brain and Behavior, in press.

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