Exploring the evidence for epigenetic regulation of environmental influences on child health across generations

Carrie V. Breton, Remy Landon, Linda G. Kahn, Michelle Bosquet Enlow, Alicia K. Peterson, Theresa Bastain, Joseph Braun, Sarah S. Comstock, Cristiane S. Duarte, Alison Hipwell, Hong Ji, Janine M. LaSalle, Rachel L. Miller, Rashelle Musci, Jonathan Posner, Rebecca Schmidt, Shakira F. Suglia, Irene Tung, Daniel Weisenberger, Yeyi ZhuRebecca Fry

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Environmental exposures, psychosocial stressors and nutrition are all potentially important influences that may impact health outcomes directly or via interactions with the genome or epigenome over generations. While there have been clear successes in large-scale human genetic studies in recent decades, there is still a substantial amount of missing heritability to be elucidated for complex childhood disorders. Mounting evidence, primarily in animals, suggests environmental exposures may generate or perpetuate altered health outcomes across one or more generations. One putative mechanism for these environmental health effects is via altered epigenetic regulation. This review highlights the current epidemiologic literature and supporting animal studies that describe intergenerational and transgenerational health effects of environmental exposures. Both maternal and paternal exposures and transmission patterns are considered, with attention paid to the attendant ethical, legal and social implications.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number769
JournalCommunications biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)


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