Bullying Causes DNA Changes In Victims Says Study

Childhood bullying can cause physical changes to a victim’s DNA according to findings from a recent study. Research results show that trauma from bullying can have an effect on a person’s mental health in adulthood.

Findings published in the journal Psychological Medicine show mutation in a particular mood regulating gene. In young children this gene can incur physical changes in response to trauma such as bullying. Later in life, the altered gene may prevent the person from adequately handling stressful situations.

According to ABC News, the study was led by Isabelle Ouellet-Morin of the University of Montreal as part of the Environmental Risk Longitudinal Twin Study. While 2,232 children participated overall, a select group was analyzed for this particular study.

The research focused on 28 sets of identical twins with an average age of 10 years. In each case only one of the twins had been a victim of bullying. Accounts of the bullying were given to researches by the affected sibling, the mother, and peers.

Results indicated that bullied subjects had changes in the structure of a serotonin regulating gene. Serotonin is a
neurotransmitter that directly relates to mood regulation and depression.

Science Blog reports that this physical change brings into question the staunch belief by most that DNA is unchangeable.

Ouellet-Morin says the results show that other factors may be at work:

“Since they were identical twins living in the same conditions, changes in the chemical structure surrounding the gene cannot be explained by genetics or family environment. Our results suggest that victimization experiences are the source of these changes.”

Do you think trauma such as bullying can cause changes to our DNA?