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Worried mothers ‘may pass on their problem to children’

Mothers with an "insecure" attachment style react differently to their children and are also likely to pass on the problem,a new study says.

Written by Agencies | Washington |
August 28, 2009 11:55:28 am

Mothers with an “insecure” attachment style react differently to their children and are also likely to pass on the problem,a new study says.

An international team,led by Queensland University,has based its findings on an analysis of 30 first-time mothers who’re asked to look at their baby’s facial expressions while inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging scanner.

“For mothers with ‘secure’ attachment,we found that both happy and sad infant faces produced a reward signal in their brain,or a ‘natural high’.” However,mothers with an ‘insecure’ attachment pattern didn’t show this same brain response. In fact,their own infant’s crying face activated the insula,a brain region associated with feelings of unfairness,pain or disgust.

“Thus a mother’s own experience in childhood may shape how she responds to her baby’s needs,through these changes in the brain. This may help to better understand factors leading to child neglect,” lead researcher Lane Strathearn said.

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In fact,in the study,prior to giving birth,the mothers participated in the Adult Attachment Interview,revealed their perception of childhood relationships with attachment figures,usually parents. Of the 30 women included in the study,half were classified as having insecure or dismissing attachment and the other half demonstrated secure patterns of attachment. Seven months after giving birth,the mothers were also asked to give blood before,during and after interacting with their child.

“Secure mothers showed a greater release of the hormone oxytocin when they interacted with their infant. This hormone is produced in the brain and released into the blood stream,and is important for childbirth,breastfeeding and maternal care.

“The mother’s oxytocin response was significantly correlated with brain activation seen in reward and oxytocin- related areas of the brain,” said Dr Strathearn whose study has been published in the ‘Neuropsychopharmacology’ journal.

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First published on: 28-08-2009 at 11:55:28 am

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