Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress

Date:
October 16, 2012
Source:
University of Liverpool
Summary:
Scientists have found that mothers who stroke their baby's body in the first few weeks after birth may change the effects that stress during pregnancy can have on an infant's early-life development.

Mothers who stroke their baby's body in the first few weeks after birth may change the effects that stress during pregnancy can have on an infant's early-life development, researchers have found.
Credit: Svetlana Fedoseeva / Fotolia

Scientists at the Universities of Liverpool, Manchester, and Kings College, London, have found that mothers who stroke their baby's body in the first few weeks after birth may change the effects that stress during pregnancy can have on an infant's early-life development.

Researchers world-wide have been studying whether stress in pregnancy can lead to emotional and behavioural problems in children for many years. Attention is now moving towards how parents might alter these effects after birth. Researchers are aiming to improve understanding of the issues to help enhance information services for pregnant women and their partners.

Scientists believe that stress in pregnancy can have an effect on an infant in later life by reducing the activity of genes that play a role in stress response. Studies of early care-giving in rats have found that high levels of mothers' licking and grooming their pups soon after birth can increase the activity of these genes and may reverse the effects of prenatal stress on their offspring.

Some studies suggest that impacts of prenatal stress on an infant's development can be either positive or negative depending on the type of environment a child encounters. It is thought that some children may experience the effects through being more prone to high levels of fear or anger.

The team at Liverpool, Manchester and London followed first-time mothers from pregnancy through to the first years of their children's lives as part of Medical Research Council (MRC) funded research, The Wirral Child Health and Development Study.

It showed 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 their baby on the head, back, legs and arms in the early weeks of life. The results suggest that stroking may alter gene activity in a similar way to that reported in animals.

Dr Helen Sharp, from the University of Liverpool's Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, explains: "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.

"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"

The study is published in the journal PLOS ONE.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Liverpool. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Helen Sharp, Andrew Pickles, Michael Meaney, Kate Marshall, Florin Tibu, Jonathan Hill. 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

Cite This Page:

University of Liverpool. "Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 16 October 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016173130.htm>.
University of Liverpool. (2012, October 16). Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress. ScienceDaily. Retrieved April 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016173130.htm
University of Liverpool. "Mother's touch could change effects of prenatal stress." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/10/121016173130.htm (accessed April 24, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

Deadly Fungus Killing Bats, Spreading in US

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) A disease that has killed more than six million cave-dwelling bats in the United States is on the move and wildlife biologists are worried. White Nose Syndrome, discovered in New York in 2006, has now spread to 25 states. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

Companies Ramp Up Wellness to Lower Health Costs

AP (Apr. 24, 2014) That little voice telling you to exercise, get in shape and get healthy is probably coming from your boss. More companies are beefing up wellness programs to try and cut down their health care costs. (April 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Blood From World's Oldest Woman Suggests Life Limit

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) Scientists say for the extremely elderly, their stem cells might reach a state of exhaustion. This could limit one's life span. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

FDA Wants To Ban Sales Of E-Cigarettes To Minors

Newsy (Apr. 24, 2014) The Food and Drug Administration wants to crack down on the use of e-cigarettes, banning the sale of the product to minors. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins