Like Humans, Childhood Trauma Shortens Lifespan In Baboons

  • Mary Nichols , Design & Trend Contributor
  • Apr, 26, 2016, 11:52 PM
Tags : science
Childhood Trauma
(Photo : Getty Images/Paula Bronstein) A new study suggests that baboons suffer from childhood trauma are likely to die earlier than their peers, similar to humans.

A new study suggests that baboons suffer from childhood trauma are likely to die earlier than their peers, similar to humans.

The study, conducted by researchers at the Duke University, Princeton University and the University of Notre Dame, showed that stress during a baboon's formative years, including exposure to drought or being orphaned, was likely to have a negative effect on lifespan, writes Nature World News.

Researchers observed populations of baboons in Kenya's Amboseli National Park over a 45-year period. The group trained their focus on 196 female baboons as male baboons have a wide territory and do not stay in one place for long.

A total of six adverse situations were used to analyze the link between stress in childhood and the advent of early death. These situations included drought during first year of life, habitat density or competition, maternal dominance rank, maternal affiliative social connectedness, maternal loss before age four as well as whether a competing younger sibling was born after less than 1.5 years - an event that could divert maternal focus away from older offspring.

After years observing the populations, the researcher found that baboons who had experienced three or more of the six adversities were likely to die 10 years earlier, on average, than other female baboons who had experienced one or less adversities.

The researchers also emphasized that the early loss of mother and the presence of competing sibling at a young age had the greatest effect on young baboons, as "maternal investment" is important to their developmental wellbeing, Washington Post reports.

According to an article published by the University of Notre Dam, "female baboons are generally quite close to their maternal relatives - their mothers, aunts, and sisters. They groom them, rest near them, and aid them in social conflicts much more often than they do non-relatives."

The researchers also found that female baboons that had faced the most adversity were more likely suffer from social isolation in adulthood.

Baboon DNA is 94 percent similar to that of humans, leading researchers to speculate that the same findings could apply to humans. This could apply despite an absence in complicating factors such as unhealthy lifestyle and lack of access to medical care.

"The results are important because they show that early adversity can have long-term negative effects on survival even in the absence of factors commonly evoked to explain similar patterns in humans, such as differences in smoking, drinking or medical care," Jenny Tung, co-author, and assistant professor of evolutionary anthropology and biology at Duke, said in a press release.

The study was published in the journal Nature Communications.

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