They say a mother’s hug lasts long after she lets go.
Researchers can now see the lasting imprints of this love in their labs, gaining new insight into the long-held belief that warm and nurturing care from birth is good for babies.
By studying the ways a child’s brain develops, to how their genes turn on and off, and how their immune systems work, researchers can see how a mother’s early nurturing influences her child’s health into adulthood and can also buffer the effects of negative life experiences, like childhood poverty.
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Research like this can hold special meaning on Mother’s Day.
“The first few weeks are very, very, very important … setting a course for life,” said Dr. Patricia Silveira, a neuroscientist and pediatrician at McGill University in Montreal.
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“The parent is shaping the brain and its connections at these early stages.”
Chaya Kulkarni, director of infant mental health promotion at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, has similar thoughts.
“It’s easy to assume that the brain will simply grow on its own,” she said.