Institute of Good Manufacturing Practices India®

(An Autonomous Body Recognized by Ministry of Commerce & Industry, Government of India)

Improved nutrition, sanitation associated with beneficial changes in child stress and epigenetic programming

A recent study led by a global-health researcher at UC Santa Cruz provides extensive insights into stress physiology and "epigenetic programming." Conducted in rural Bangladesh, the large-scale randomized controlled trial integrated interventions such as drinking water, sanitation, handwashing, and nutrition. Published in Nature Communications, the findings demonstrate tangible effects on children's genetic makeup, including improved stress-response system function, reduced oxidative stress, and decreased DNA methylation levels. These changes are significant as oxidative stress can lead to various diseases. The research, part of the "WASH Benefits Bangladesh" trial, involved over 5,500 pregnant women and their children across 720 study clusters. Unlike many previous studies, it incorporated experimental interventions and control groups, yielding more scientifically robust results. The study's focus on physical interventions in a low-resource setting distinguishes it from others relying on psychosocial measures. Ongoing monitoring aims to explore the long-term effects of early-life interventions. The study received funding from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the National Institutes of Health.