When focal children were 9 years old, we collected saliva samples, which we've used to extract biomarkers such as telomere length and polymorphisms. Telomeres are the region at the end of the chromosome, which deteriorate as a person ages. Polymorphisms are the natural variants in a person's genes.
In 2014, Colter Mitchell, John Hobcraft, Sara McLanahan, Susan Rutherford Siegel, Arthur Berg, Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Irwin Garfinkel, and Daniel Notterman published an article in the the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences entitled, "Social Disadvantage, Genetic Sensitivity, and Children's Telomere Length." They found that exposure to disadvantaged environments in childhood was associated with shorter telomere length, even by age 9. This article is the focus of our latest Research Brief "Effects of Social Disadvantage and Genetic Sensitivity on Children's Telomere Length."