Methylation matters in child development: Toward developmental behavioral epigenetics

Marinus H. van Ijzendoorn*, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Richard P. Ebstein

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Child development might be conceptualized as experiences becoming sculpted in the organism's DNA through methylation, one of the major epigenetic mechanisms of change. This article introduces some of the basic biological mechanisms of methylation, discusses research on animal models, and highlights some of the most impressive methylation studies on human development. Although assessment of methylation levels still is under debate, saliva-derived methylation might tremendously enhance the opportunities for noninvasive epigenetic studies on child development. It seems worthwhile to add methylation to the G×E equation to fully appreciate the effects of the environment on child and adult functioning.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-310
Number of pages6
JournalChild Development Perspectives
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2011
Externally publishedYes


  • Attachment
  • Child development
  • Methylation
  • Nurture
  • Parenting
  • Trauma


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