Advertisement

Why is epigenetics so important?

Dr. Michael Roizen, MD
Internal Medicine
Epigenetics aren't just important because someday you'll be able to tag your baby's genes for blond hair, a composer's brain, or the ability to hurl a 98 mph fastball. Our bodies need some other kind of mechanism to allow us to adapt. Epigenetics gives our bodies the ability to influence which genes will be turned on - or expressed - or off, or partially on, depending on our immediate environment.

Based on what you're doing right now, your baby is forecasting her future environment. And if the way her genes have been programmed to be expressed doesn't match that environment, problems can occur. So your challenge - dare we say your responsibility - is to provide little Dolly with a healthy environment now so her "internal programming mechanism" predicts and can respond to a healthy environment later.

All of these epigenetic changes that you can make during the development of your child don't just change the way your child's genes are expressed. These changes can also be passed down from generation to generation - meaning that the small changes you make today can affect generations long after you've been said good-bye to - so your responsibility for creating a healthy environment for your offspring is bigger than you may have even thought.
YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

More About this Book

YOU: Having a Baby: The Owner's Manual to a Happy and Healthy Pregnancy

Can I get a cavity filled while pregnant? Will avoiding spicy foods make my kid a picky eater? Can I really increase my baby's IQ while she's in utero? Whether you're pregnant for the first time,...

Continue Learning about Genetic Disorders and Birth Defects

Can You Overcome Your Genetic Disposition?
Can You Overcome Your Genetic Disposition?
Actress Angelina Jolie announced in a 2013 New York Times editorial that she had both breasts removed. The reason: a heightened risk of breast cancer ...
Read More
How is cystic fibrosis in children treated?
RealAgeRealAge
Treatment for cystic fibrosis (CF) focuses on clearing the lungs of mucus via antibiotics for infect...
More Answers
How does cystic fibrosis (CF) affect the pancreas?
Jumo HealthJumo Health
With cystic fibrosis (CF), the pancreas is unable to perform its usual role in helping food digestio...
More Answers
When Should I Get Genetic Counseling for Genetic Disorders?
When Should I Get Genetic Counseling for Genetic Disorders?

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.