Mother's Nurturing Affects Stress Levels in Adult Rats
The way a mother takes care of her baby may affect the child's stress levels when he or she grows into an adult, say studies on rats led by a researcher at McGill University in Montreal.
The studies found that a mother's nurturing can permanently alter the way the infant's genes function, the Associated Press reports.
In the studies, baby rats whose mothers licked them a lot grew into less anxious and fearful adults. They also produced fewer stress hormones than rats that received less grooming from their mothers.
The researchers determined that the mother rats' licking affected a gene in the baby rats' brains involved in soothing the body in stressful circumstances.
The findings were presented Sunday in England at a conference on the fetal and infant origins of adult disease.
Some experts say it isn't clear how these findings may apply to humans, the AP reports.
-- Robert Preidt
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