A study from Tulane University reveals that household domestic violence affects children down to their DNA.

Study author Dr. Stacy Drury says she looked at children who came from homes affected by domestic violence, suicide or the incarceration of a family member.

"Those three factors show that same association with shorter telomeres," said Drury. "That impacts the level of the child's DNA, mostly likely years after these exposures happened."

My hope is to show that this is why we wanna go after policy changes.

Drury says she discovered children in homes affected by traumatic experiences have shorter telomeres — which are a cellular marker of aging — than those in stable households.

She says shorter telomeres are associated with a range of negative health outcomes.

"These early adverse experiences have also been associated with that same negative health consequence," said Drury. "So increased risks for cancer, obesity or hypertension."

Drury says during the study, she took genetic samples from 80 children between the ages of 5 and 15 in New Orleans and interviewed parents about their home environments for the study.

She says she hopes to use this study to spread awareness that a child with traumatic home life could have not only mental issues, but serious physical health issues later in life.

"And my hope is to show that this is why we wanna go after policy changes," said Drury. "So that understanding community violence, supporting family structures and helping families that have had these experiences get kids into treatment."

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