Children who grow in poor and hard conditions exhibit shorter DNA strands which is an indication of illness and ageing of DNA, revealed a study.
Children as young as nine year old were affected by the extreme conditions, the research said. After a study that was conducted on 40 nine-year-old African-American boys, it was found that they had shorter telomeres compared to boys who were lucky to live in happy environment. Telomeres are DNA sequences at the ends of chromosomes.
The researchers say this kind of genetic change among young children of minority children of vulnerable communities will help in early-childhood intervention programmes.
The scientists also found that the telomeres were shorter for boys who had low family income, low levels of maternal education, family instability and harsh parenting style.
On the other hand, there was no shortening of telomeres for those who had higher-income and more stable backgrounds.
Studies have also revealed that stress has a negative impact on DNA, it quickens the shortening of telomeres which is equivalent to genetic weathering.
"Originally, I think we thought that we'd see it with the mothers of these kids," said Colter Mitchell, lead author of the study and a faculty research fellow at the University of Michigan's Population Studies Center and Survey Research Center. "But I think more surprising is that we see it as young as 9."