Saturday, January 31, 2015

Holocaust Survivors: Adult Diseases (Research, Video 3:21)

Previous research about adults who were born during the Holocaust indicates that they suffer health problems as a result of being exposed to starvation and stress between conception and early infancy. Medically this effect is referred to as fetal origin of adult disease.

A more recent Holocaust research study was done to determine whether exposure to the Holocaust from preconception to early infancy is a cause of chronic morbidity (diseased state) in adulthood. Participants included 70 European Jews born in countries under Nazi rule from 1940-1945. This study began with interviews to determine if they had any chronic illnesses. A similar control group of 230 Israeli-born individuals also participated. Prevalence of selected risk factors and chronic diseases was compared between the groups.

Results indicated that the prevalence of cardiovascular risk factors and morbidity was significantly higher in the exposed group with diseases such as hypertension, dyslipidemia, diabetes, angina pectoris, and congestive heart failure. The prevalence of cancer, peptic ulcer disease, headaches/migraines, and anxiety/depression was also higher in the exposed group. These results indicate that exposure to Holocaust conditions in early life may be associated with a higher prevalence of certain diseases in adulthood.

In this video, Betty Gold explains how she and her family escaped from the Nazis and hid in a cave in the Polish forest. Her family learned that their hiding place had been discovered, and they would be murdered that night:

Frances Shani Parker, Author
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  1. So can this be applied to all situations of starvation and stress between conception and infancy.

  2. No, this research can't be applied to all situations of starvation and stress between conception and infancy. Trauma is such a personalized experience in its causes (natural, human), intensities, effects, and treatments. Some responses may be common and some not. Even among Holocaust survivors, there are variables which uniquely define different situations.