Babies and children * Healthy living

Much loved babies lead to less stressed adults

Much loved babies lead to less stressed adults Cope better with stress

Much loved babies whose mothers shower them with affection, grow up to be adults better at coping with stress, researchers have found.

And these early life experiences have "long lasting positive effects on mental health well into adulthood," they said.

Most past studies which looked at how a mother's affection influences future adult health have relied upon adult recollections of childhood.

However for this study, researchers from Duke University, North Carolina, watched how mothers and their eight month old babies interacted, then ranked them according to the amount of affection and attention the mother showed ranging from "negative" to "extravagant."

One in ten mothers showed a "low level of maternal affection" but most (85%) displayed normal levels of affection. The remaining six per cent showed very high levels of affection.

Some 482 of the youngsters were followed until the age of 34, and their mental health was analysed focussing on anxiety, hostility and general levels of distress.

The researchers found that children who had experienced higher levels of affection had lower levels of distress and were better at dealing with stress and anxiety.

The findings suggest that even very early life experiences influence future adult health, they said.

And concluded: "High levels of maternal affection are likely to facilitate secure attachments and bonding.

"This not only lowers distress, but may also enable a child to develop effective life, social, and coping skills, which will stand them in good stead as adults."

The findings are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

This article was published on Tue 27 July 2010

Image © Monkey Business -

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