August 05, 2019
Māori age length at odds with DNA protection
Research using data from the country’s largest longitudinal study has found Māori and Pacific children should have a better chance at living longer – but the statistics show the opposite is happening.
University of Auckland researchers examined DNA samples from more than 4000 children in the Growing Up in New Zealand study to record the length of telomeres, which are the elements at the end of each chromosome strand that protects them from damage.
Telomeres shorten as we age and can affect the development of age-related disease.
Growing Up in New Zealand senior research fellow and molecular biologist Dr Caroline Walker says it's the first study to examine telomere length in New Zealand children.
It discovered girls had significantly longer telomeres than boys, and Pacific children had the longest telomeres, followed by Asian children, Māori children and then European children.
Children with older mothers also had longer telemores.
Dr Walker says more research is needed to understand how telomere length interacts with other genetic and environmental factors to affect the health and wellbeing of Māori and Pacific peoples.
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