Bonding between mother, baby reduces neglect

Bonding between mother, baby reduces neglect

Strengthening the bond between mother and baby is one way of reducing childhood neglect, says a new study.

University of Queensland (UQ) researcher Lane Strathearn’s study identifies how increased pressures placed on mothers by society have reduced the perceived importance of raising children.

“I feel that the basic needs of children have fallen lower and lower on the priority list of families and society, with physical or emotional neglect often the unfortunate result,” Strathearn warned.

“This study emphasises the need to address the basic, universal needs of children, and stresses the importance of this early mother-infant relationship.

“Strengthening this crucial relationship may help to prevent some of the long term consequences of neglect that we are seeing more commonly today, such as delinquency, crime, developmental delay and psychiatric disorders.”

“Our subsequent study showed that the hormone, oxytocin, which is involved in breastfeeding, is also related to secure attachment in mothers and to brain ‘reward’ activation when they view pictures of their baby,” Strathearn said.

A father of seven, Strathearn grew up in Redcliffe, studied medicine at UQ and completed paediatric training at the Brisbane Mater Children’s Hospital, before heading to the US in 2001.

Spanning nine years and drawing upon large longitudinal studies based in Brisbane and brain imaging data collected in Houston, Strathearn’s research aimed to develop a better understanding of the pervasive problem of child neglect.

Watching mothers and babies “connect” was one of the most enjoyable parts of the research, Strathearn said, according to a university release.

“It was humbling to be privy to some very personal experiences in their lives, including times when they had themselves experienced abuse, neglect or loss during their childhood,” he said.

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