The trauma suffered by Holocaust survivors is capable of being passed on to their children and grandchildren, affecting stress response, emotion and learning, a study has found.
The findings by researchers at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic, found that the mental health of at least three generations of the same family could be affected.
Researchers found that the relatives of survivors of concentration camps had significantly less grey matter, or neurons, in areas of the brain responsible for stress response, memory, motivation, emotion, learning and behaviour, than a control group whose relatives had no connection to the Holocaust.
The study backs the theory of epigenetic inheritance-the idea that environmental factors can affect the genes of your offspring.
Ivan Rektor, a neurologist at Masaryk, said that early results showed there was a deterioration in children of survivors.