November 2017 – A study released July 18 reveals startling differences in the DNA of children who grew up with a father versus those who did not. In children who have experienced father loss, the protective caps (telomeres) on the ends of their chromosomes are shorter. Telomeres have a similar function to that of plastic caps on the end of a shoelace. They protect chromosomes from deteriorating.
For some time, the length of telomeres had been believed by scientists to be directly linked to physical and emotional health, and lifespan. And now, the trauma created by father loss is made biologically evident through the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing study of 5,000 children born from 1998 through 2000.
In general, children who grew up in a home without a father had 14% shorter telomeres than those with a father. Likewise, kids whose fathers died had 16% shorter telomeres than children who grew up with a father in the home.
In another category – among fathers who were incarcerated before their children turned five – children experienced 10% shorter telomeres. Children of separated or divorced parents experienced 8% shortening.
While ethnicity had no effect on the results, gender did. In homes that experienced father loss, boys experienced 40% more shortening than girls. Boys with father loss have a propensity toward anxiety, depression, or pronounced sensitivity to their environment.
But there may be an antidote; Elizabeth Blackburn, author and 2009 Nobel Prize winner for her shared study of telomeres, clarified that telomeres can be lengthened with proper diet, exercise, sleep, and an overall peaceful lifestyle.
deseretnews.com, 7/19/17; afa.net, 8/25/17