Parental Social Disparities in Epigenetic Regulation of Newborns' Imprinted Genes Related to Gestational Growth and Later-Life Health

Katherine King, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Duke University
Susan Murphy, Duke University
Cathrine Hoyo, Duke University

Children whose parents have lower income and education are more likely to be obese. Attention has focused on behavioral factors, while little research has considered epigenetics. DNA methylation at multiple regulatory sequences of imprinted genes is related to gestational growth, and increases childhood obesity risk. We measured methylation at differentially methylated regions (DMRs) regulating imprinted genes from cord blood of 619 infants. We modeled disparities by race/ethnicity of both parents, and the role that maternal socioeconomic status (SES) (including income and education) may play in statistically explaining race/ethnic gaps. Disparities vary substantially by DMR, indicating that social factors differentially influence different epigenetic markers, a fact underreported in existing literature. These findings are consistent with a role for epigenetics as a path through which parental social conditions may influence health across the lifecourse.

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Presented in Session 204: Biodemography of Reproduction