According to scientists from the Department of Genetics from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York, the traumas caused by the horrors of the Holocaust are being passed down to the children and grandchildren of the surviving Jewish genocide victims, writes The Guardian.
To prove their theory, genetic engineers studied 32 Jews who had endured suffering during the Second World War, as well as their heirs. The analysis of the data showed that the new Jewish generation has a several times greater risk of experiencing stressful or psychological disorders in contrast to those Jews who had been living outside of Europe during the war.
Doctors are adamant that the genetic changes can be solely ascribed to the effects of the Holocaust. Experts postulate that their research is direct proof of the existence of so-called epigenetic inheritance.
In this type of inheritance, the children and grandchildren inherit on a genetic level the influence of the environment and the social distress that their parent has gone through and to some extent the experience they have gained.
The scientists did not limit their studies to just a single ethnic group. They studied the effects of the Dutch famine of 1944 during the destruction of WWII. It was found that the children and grandchildren of then pregnant Dutch women are at a higher risk of developing schizophrenia and other severe psychological disorders such as constant anxiety.
The 3rd controlled study about the effects of epigenetic inheritance was not related to the consequences of WWII. Jewish scientists from Mount Sinai Hospital studied the male children and grandchildren of heavy smokers.
The experts discovered that the descendants of individuals with the harmful habit weighed more and had a much greater danger of developing various diseases related to heart function, as opposed to the children of non-smokers.