Researchers examine the importance of a mother's soothing touch
Mothers who stroke their newborn infants in the first few weeks of their life could change the effects that stress during gestation has on early-life development, new research from the United Kingdom shows. Increasing maternal depression has been linked with decreasing physiological adaptability and with increasing negative emotionality when mothers do not stroke their babies enough. The study, recently presented in the journal PLOS ONE, could help increase our understanding of this issue and in turn provide better information services for pregnant women and their partners.
Past studies have found that the stress incurred during pregnancy can trigger both emotional and behavioural problems in children for extensive periods of time. In this latest study, researchers from the Universities of Liverpool and Manchester, and Kings College London in the United Kingdom examined mothers and infants who took part in the Wirral Child Health & Development Study to determine a mother's capacity to alter stress effects after birth.
Stress in pregnancy can affect an infant in later life by reducing the activity of genes that influence stress response. Research has shown that prenatal stress can elicit either positive or negative responses, depending on the environment a child faces. A number of children have a tendency to become susceptible to high levels of fear or anger.
'Negative emotionality is a core component of infant temperament comprising anger proneness to constraints such as being placed in a car seat and fearfulness to unfamiliar events such as the approach of strangers,' the authors wrote. 'Elevated anger proneness is associated with conduct disorders and fearfulness with anxiety disorders later in childhood.'
They found that links between symptoms of depression in pregnancy and subsequent infant emotions of fear and anger, as well as heart rate response to stress at seven months of age changed by how often a mother stroked her baby on the head, back, legs and arms in the early weeks of life. Stroking therefore may alter gene activity.
'We are currently following up on the Wirral children in our study to see if reports of early stroking by their mothers continue to make a difference to developmental outcomes over time,' said Dr Helen Sharp from the Institute of Psychology, Health and Society at the University of Liverpool. 'The eventual aim is to find out whether we should recommend that mothers who have been stressed during pregnancy should be encouraged to stroke their babies early in life.
More information: Sharp, H., et al., 'Frequency of Infant Stroking Reported by Mothers Moderates the Effect of Prenatal Depression on Infant Behavioural and Physiological Outcomes', PLOS ONE, 2012, 7(10), e45446. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0045446. http://www.plosone.org/home.action;jsessionid=8E8E1FA614CC743FC61F437E3555B3AF
Journal reference: PLoS ONE
Provided by CORDIS
- Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress Oct 16, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Maternal depression and controlling behavior associated with increased stress response in infants Sep 18, 2007 | not rated yet | 0
- Researchers track the impacts of depression during pregnancy Dec 09, 2010 | not rated yet | 0
- Stressful pregnancies can lead to stressful children Jul 22, 2011 | not rated yet | 0
- Prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease increases maternal stress, depression, and anxiety Sep 07, 2012 | not rated yet | 0
- Motion perception revisited: High Phi effect challenges established motion perception assumptions Apr 23, 2013 | 3 / 5 (2) | 2
- Anything you can do I can do better: Neuromolecular foundations of the superiority illusion (Update) Apr 02, 2013 | 4.5 / 5 (11) | 5
- The visual system as economist: Neural resource allocation in visual adaptation Mar 30, 2013 | 5 / 5 (2) | 9
- Separate lives: Neuronal and organismal lifespans decoupled Mar 27, 2013 | 4.9 / 5 (8) | 0
- Sizing things up: The evolutionary neurobiology of scale invariance Feb 28, 2013 | 4.8 / 5 (10) | 14
Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras
Apr 15, 2011 I'd like to open a discussion thread for version 2 of the draft of my book ''Classical and Quantum Mechanics via Lie algebras'', available online at http://lanl.arxiv.org/abs/0810.1019 , and for the...
- More from Physics Forums - Independent Research
More news stories
Bed sharing with parents is linked to a fivefold increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), even when the parents are non-smokers and the mother has not been drinking alcohol and does not use illegal drugs, according ...
Health 11 hours ago | 1.3 / 5 (3) | 0
Many people with implantable defibrillators can safely participate in vigorous sports according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.
Health 11 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Little is known about the effect of physical education (PE) on child weight, but a new study from Cornell University finds that increasing the amount of time that elementary schoolchildren spent in gym class reduces the probability ...
Health 13 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
Living near a major roadway during the prenatal period is associated with an increased risk of respiratory infection developing in children by the age of 3, according to a new study from researchers in Boston.
Health 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
People who are consistently exposed to both wood smoke and tobacco smoke are at a greater risk for developing chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and for experiencing more frequent and severe symptoms of the disease, ...
Health 15 hours ago | not rated yet | 0
(Medical Xpress)—A three-year multinational study has tracked and detailed the progression of Huntington's disease (HD), predicting clinical decline in people carrying the HD gene more than 10 years before ...
3 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
A Nobel prize-winning scientist Tuesday played down "shock-horror scenarios" that a new virus strain will emerge with the potential to kill millions of people.
54 minutes ago | 5 / 5 (1) | 0
No new human cases of the H7N9 virus have been recorded in China for a week, national health authorities said, for the first time since the outbreak began in March.
36 minutes ago | not rated yet | 0
Johns Hopkins researchers say they have discovered specific chemical alterations in two genes that, when present during pregnancy, reliably predict whether a woman will develop postpartum depression.
1 hour ago | not rated yet | 0 |
(Medical Xpress)—A research team, led by Jeremy Barr, a biology post-doctoral fellow, unveils a new immune system that protects humans and animals from infection.
11 hours ago | 4.6 / 5 (13) | 5 |
New research suggests that a compound abundant in the Mediterranean diet takes away cancer cells' "superpower" to escape death. By altering a very specific step in gene regulation, this compound essentially re-educates cancer ...
14 hours ago | 4.8 / 5 (12) | 2 |