DNA methylome variation in a perinatal nurse-visitation program that reduces child maltreatment: a 27-year follow-up

Transl Psychiatry. 2018 Jan 10;8(1):15. doi: 10.1038/s41398-017-0063-9.


This study reveals the influence of child maltreatment on DNA methylation across the genome and provides the first evidence that a psychosocial intervention program, the Nurse Family Partnership (NFP), which targets mothers at risk for abusive parenting, associates with variation in the DNA methylome in adult offspring. The 188 participants were born to women randomly assigned to control (n = 99) or nurse-visited intervention groups (n = 89) and provided blood samples and a diagnostic interview at age 27 years. Interindividual variation in the blood DNA methylome was described using principal components (PC) scores derived from principal component analysis and showed that the NFP program (PC10: p = 0.029) and a history of abuse/neglect (PC1: p = 0.029, PC2: p = 0.009) significantly associated with DNA methylome variation at 27 years of age independent of gender, ancestry, cellular heterogeneity, and a polygenic risk index for major psychiatric disorders. The magnitude of the association between child maltreatment and DNA methylation was reduced when accounting for lifestyle factors, including smoking. These findings reflect the sustained impact of both childhood adversity as well as intervention programs that target such adversity on the epigenome but highlight the need for prospective longitudinal studies of DNA methylome variation in the context of early intervention programs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Canada
  • Child Abuse / prevention & control*
  • Child Abuse / psychology
  • DNA Methylation*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • House Calls*
  • Humans
  • Maternal-Child Nursing*
  • Mental Disorders / genetics*
  • Multifactorial Inheritance
  • Nurse-Patient Relations
  • Perinatal Care*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Young Adult