Researchers found that abused children who develop post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) may experience a biologically distinct form of the disorder from PTSD caused by other types of trauma later in life. Abuse in childhood can cause epigenetic changes to the very DNA of the child. “In PTSD with a history of child abuse, we found a 12-fold higher [level] of epigenetic changes,” says Mehta. In contrast, people who experienced trauma later in life showed genetic effects that tended to be short-lived, and did not permanently alter the function of the genes. The implications of this research are great for parents that have adopted children who have experienced abuse, and could have implications on the was PTSD is treated.
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