October 2012 | Volume 120 | Issue 10
On the Cover | Focus
Assisted reproductive technologies (ART) have made it possible for couples to have children who otherwise would not have been able to. What influence might ART procedures, as well as underlying infertility, have on the health of children conceived using these methods? Investigators are studying whether introducing fertility drugs and manipulating eggs and sperm in a laboratory setting—in essence, altering the primal environment—sets the stage for adverse health effects in children.
Research on epigenetics has surged in the past two decades as it has become apparent that changes in gene function aside from those related to DNA mutations or natural variations may be integral factors in numerous perplexing health disorders. Although much remains unknown about this relatively new field, early results in the niche field of behavioral epigenetics suggest such studies could provide insights into behavioral and mental health conditions such as autism spectrum disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety.