Expert Analysis:

June 20, 2016

Social behavior affected by epigenetic modification of a single gene

A study in the journal PNAS reports that epigenetic modification of one gene impacts human social behaviors. The OXT gene is responsible for production of the hormone oxytocin, which is known to play a role in human sociability. Continue reading

March 31, 2016

Epigenetic changes in developing fetuses linked to smoking during pregnancy

Smoking while pregnant can cause epigenetic changes to the DNA of newborns, according to a large scale meta-analysis of thirteen previous studies. The authors say their results could help explain the higher risks of health problems such as birth defects and cancer in children whose mothers smoked during pregnancy. Continue reading

December 3, 2015

Male body weight linked to epigenetic effects in sperm

Differences between the epigenetic marks found in the sperm of lean and obese men have been observed in a small study. The differences found by the researchers were in genes associated with appetite, leading them to suggest their findings provide a possible explanation for why obese fathers produce children who are predisposed to obesity. Continue reading

October 8, 2015

Male sexual orientation identified using epigenetic differences between twins

Epigenetic differences between male twins was used to identify sexual orientation with up to 70 percent accuracy, according to unpublished results presented at the American Society of Human Genetics 2015 annual meeting. Continue reading

June 23, 2015

Potential epigenetic link between childhood asthma and fiber intake during pregnancy

Researchers have identified an epigenetic mechanism by which fiber in the diet of pregnant mice has a protective effect against the development of asthma in their offspring. A survey of 40 pregnant women also found that increased dietary fiber was associated with fewer visits to the doctor for respiratory problems during the first year of their child’s infancy. Continue reading