Intergenerational Definition

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Intergenerational transmission of health happens via many different mechanisms. intergenerational relationships can arise because of genetics, but also due to epigenetics (behavioral/environmental exposures) that can affect health through generations, mainly by influencing the maternal-child relationship. Those adverse effects may persist in the long-term through intergenerational biological mechanisms.

Intergenerational transmission of health

The mostly studied measures of the intergenerational correlation in health are those relating to birth weight. In a study using matched children-mother data from California, the likelihood that a child is low birth weight increases by 50 percent if the mother was low birth weight herself. These
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Violence is also associated with an increase in premature birth, as was seen during times of war. Perinatal mortality and morbidity more than doubled in Sarajevo, and there was a rise in congenital malformations from 0.4% to 3% during the war. Outside a war zone, a meta-analysis on abuse during pregnancy showed a 1.4 times higher chance of low birth weight. In Colombia, it was observed a decline in age at menarche during periods with high homicide rates, suggesting that psychosocial prompts can alter the developmental trajectory of young…show more content…
Nevertheless, stress may be a mediator through which parents transmit adverse effects to their children. African-Americans experiencing racism has been reported to present with higher cortisol levels, similar studies have shown this among Hispanic youth exposed to racism. Another study reported a decrease in birth weight among children of California women with Arab sounding names in the year following 9/11; that could be attributed to an increase in racial discrimination experience among them. Cortisol and other hormones in the stress physiology are important for maintaining immune, reproductive and cardiovascular health. However, an imbalance on cortisol levels system can adversely affect the immune system as well as the ability to become pregnant and even the pregnancy itself. Maternal health may influence offspring through exposure to hormones in pregnancy, thus increasing the odds of giving birth to infants with lower birth weight. Since being born small increases the risk for developing poor health in adulthood, factors impacting maternal stress hormones in pregnancy could also affect long-term health of the child and the next

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