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Epigenetic researchers: Touching infants frequently affects their genetic expression

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More than just emotional health at issue?/jolopes, Fotolia

This sort of finding, assuming it holds up, is killing Darwinism. From ScienceDaily:

The amount of close and comforting contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level, an effect detectable four years later, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

The study showed that children who had been more distressed as infants and had received less physical contact had a molecular profile in their cells that was underdeveloped for their age — pointing to the possibility that they were lagging biologically.

“In children, we think slower epigenetic aging might indicate an inability to thrive,” said Michael Kobor, a Professor in the UBC Department of Medical Genetics who leads the “Healthy Starts” theme at BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

Although the implications for childhood development and adult health have yet to be understood, this finding builds on similar work in rodents. This is the first study to show in humans that the simple act of touching, early in life, has deeply-rooted and potentially lifelong consequences on genetic expression.Paper. (paywall) – Sarah R. Moore, Lisa M. McEwen, Jill Quirt, Alex Morin, Sarah M. Mah, Ronald G. Barr, W. Thomas Boyce, Michael S. Kobor. Epigenetic correlates of neonatal contact in humans. Development and Psychopathology, 2017; 29 (05): 1517 DOI: 10.1017/S0954579417001213 More.

The problem is, Darwinism is about natural selection acting on random mutation of genes. But evolution is now known to happen in many ways other than random mutation of genes. Natural selection becomes a tautology: Not all life forms that come into existence will survive and leave descendants (Lynn Margulis). At that point, all claims about purely Darwinian selection must compete with other evidence-based assertions. This is not a good time to be splintering lecterns on behalf of the single greatest idea anyone ever had (Darwinism). Increasingly, it’s not much of an idea at all and evolution has multiple drivers.

Philip Cunningham writes to wonder, “If we are merely genetically determined robots, as Darwinists hold, how is it possible for us to affect our gene expression?” Well, um, more people are going to be asking those questions more frequently and with more freedom.

Note: News posting will be light till this evening due to other deadlines.

See also: Epigenetic change: Lamarck, wake up, you’re wanted in the conference room!

and

What the fossils told us in their own words

2 Replies to “Epigenetic researchers: Touching infants frequently affects their genetic expression

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    One of the Great Experiments of Communism was Romania’s decision to steal a generation of babies and raise them in State “orphanages” under proper Socialist Collectivist care. The produce thousands of socially isolated zombies.

    I tour an orphanage once, back when we still had them in the US, and I was approached by a little who might have been 2 or 3. The nurses were going to hustle him away because I was just there for a tour. And they asked him, “What’s so special about this person?”

    And the tiny boy, summoning all his tiny maleness, replied, “He’s a MAN.” In all his few years he had seen precious few males in a closed world of nuns and nurses. Every time I think of this, I know I should have picked him up and hugged him, in a male bonding kinda way, and cancelled the rest of the tour to spend time with him. And perhaps search out the other Lost Boys.

    Humans are social animals. Food, water, and a clean diaper are not sufficient. Young humans REQUIRE close personal contact with members of a manpack in order to grow into sane, rounded humans.

  2. 2
    polistra says:

    It’s pretty clear by now that sensory experience and memory have epigenetic effects. The HUGE question is: What’s the mechanism?

    We know, at least in terms of wiring diagram if not function, how a thought turns into a muscle contraction. How does a thought turn into a broad-based switching of genes in many cells?

    Is there a whole separate system, akin to the sympathetic and parasympathetic systems, that we haven’t noticed?

    Or is this what the axons are doing quietly and sneakily inside their myelin coatings? When myelin is lost, the axons are still sending signals slowly, which means they were always doing SOMETHING while the main speedy communication was jumping along the myelin.

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