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 July 29, 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 July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

Deadly Ebola Virus Threatens West Africa

AP (July 28, 2014) West African nations and international health organizations are working to contain the largest Ebola outbreak in history. It's one of the deadliest diseases known to man, but the CDC says it's unlikely to spread in the U.S. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

$15B Deal on Vets' Health Care Reached

AP (July 28, 2014) A bipartisan deal to improve veterans health care would authorize at least $15 billion in emergency spending to fix a veterans program scandalized by long patient wait times and falsified records. (July 28) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Two Americans Contract Ebola in Liberia

Reuters - US Online Video (July 28, 2014) Two American aid workers in Liberia test positive for Ebola while working to combat the deadliest outbreak of the virus ever. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

Traditional African Dishes Teach Healthy Eating

AP (July 28, 2014) Classes are being offered nationwide to encourage African Americans to learn about cooking fresh foods based on traditional African cuisine. The program is trying to combat obesity, heart disease and other ailments often linked to diet. (July 28) Video provided by AP
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