The human newborn is highly dependent on parental care for its survival but also for the healthy development of its brain. A large body of literature demonstrates the impact of early life adversity, even during the prenatal period, on the adult's health. The susceptibility to neuropsychiatric diseases is often potentiated by early stress. If there is an agreement that a critical developmental period exists, the mechanisms underlying the long term effects of early life adversity are still poorly understood. Recent studies in animals highlight the involvement of epigenetic processes in the transmission of such vulnerabilities, notably via modifications in germ cells, which can be transmitted in the next generations.
© 2016 médecine/sciences – Inserm.