Hyderabad: Maternal nurturing and parental responsiveness has an impact on infants’ stress levels as they progress into their early adulthood. Parents or caregivers who show sensitivity towards infants, specially when they are cranky, help in raising a child with lowered cortisol baseline levels. Cortisol is none other than our stress hormone that is released when the human body undergoes stress in both its physical and mental form.
If a child is not held and comforted when he is crying or being fussy, they grow up tending to develop a number of health concerns such as cardiovascular disease, depression and higher stress levels. Adaptation techniques in children who had nurturing and sensitive parenting tend to differ from those children who were placed in stressful situations and not comforted. As a child grows, he or she falls back on their first experiences to cope with situations. During this process, if the child is greeted with an uneasy feeling of being previously left alone to deal with situations, they tend to have a higher cortisol level leading to stress inflicted diseases.
A study was conducted by Michael Meaney, McGill University, on rat pups and their interaction with their mothers. The study showed how rat pups that were licked more had different responses to stress as adults as compared to those pups whose mothers did not lick them a lot. In addition to this another study showed that where the biological mother rats were replaced with other rats and the same routine of licking continued, it was found that genes from their biological mothers had nothing to do with stress related mechanisms but it was the grooming which made the difference.
In response, Dr G.R. Chandak, CCMB, said, “It is not only post delivery that nurturing begins. Also during pregnancy the level of care directly affects the infants who tend to develop stress related health concerns. Holding babies when they cry increases infant survival capabilities, thus reducing stress related inflictions later on in life.”
With so many studies and developments in neonatal care for newborns, hospitals in Hyderabad like Fernandez Hospital are already introducing nurturing techniques to enhance the newborn’s life. The NICU at Fernandez Hospital has started an initiative called Kangaroo Mother Care. Accordingly, the Kangaroo technique wherein mothers are told to hold their newborns to their chests to enhance nurturing and inevitably reduce the level of stress hormones.
It is interesting that researches like this can actually go a long way in reducing stress levels and stress responses in humans. Foundational studies like these done all around the world are now being used in city hospitals, greatly impacting and enhancing the life of our children....