CORVALLIS, Oregon — A new study from Washington State University suggests that it doesn't take much to affect the way a young child processes stress.
The study looked at the mother and baby relationship, correlating how a mom's behavior with their infant, affects a gene that processes stress.
The research focused on more than 100 mothers and their one year old's from a previous long term study out of the United Kingdom..
That British study had moms sharing a picture book with the babies. The parents showcased different attitudes...such as warmth or being awkward.
The WSU study found that parents with neutral or awkward interactions impacted a gene associated with regulating the body's response to stress.
The lead author of the study said the effects, found in genetic testing of the group of children at age seven, were fairly minor, but enough to worth noting.
“I think the key takeaway for new mothers is just an appreciation for how much their infant is picking up on the social emotional environment and how keyed in they are to people, even at such a young age,” said Elizabeth Holdsworth, a postdoctoral research associate at WSU.
Holdsworth added that humans grow to fit the environment they're in-- which creates variations that are not necessarily good or bad.
But researchers are working to understand how these changes happen, particularly during infancy when the body is developing rapidly.
The study was published in the American Journal of Human Biology.
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