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February newsletter

February News Letter

New research

Shows children who receive lots of touch grow up to be healthier, less depressed, kinder, more empathetic, and more productive adults.

This research from Darcia Narvaez studied more than 600 adults and found those who were cuddled as children grew into more well-adjusted adults with less anxiety and better mental health. The study found that, along with cuddling, a positive childhood with lots of affection and quality time also led to healthier adults with better coping skills.

Much research has already been done on the effects of how cuddling helps premature babies, and now researchers are seeing benefits all the way up to adulthood. The research soon to be featured in the journal Applied Developmental Science puts an end once and for all to the age-old debate – can you or can’t you “spoil” your baby by picking them up when they cry. According to Darcia Narvaez not only is it impossible to spoil a baby, you will inhibit your baby’s development by leaving him/her to cry.

“What parents do in those early months and years really affects the way the brain is going to grow the rest of their lives, so lots of holding, touching and rocking, that is what babies need. They grow better that way. Keep them calm, because all sorts of systems are establishing the way they are going to work.
If you let babies cry a lot, those systems are going to be easily triggered into stress. We can see that in adult hood, that people who were not well cared for tend to be more stress reactive and they have a hard time self calming,”
Darcia Narvaez Notre Dame Psychologist

“Young babies cry to be reunited with their mothers and the child will only stop crying when their cries remain unheard and they go into a state of despair. The baby in despair has far higher levels of stress hormones than those who’s cries attract their mothers attention. This affects their heart and breathing rate and lowers their body temperature by whole degree”.
Dr Nils Bergman ‘Kangaroo Care’.

Unhappy children can become unhappy adults

A study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry, involved thousands of children who grew up in Aberdeen. Teachers were asked about their temperament and attendance and researchers tracked down participants in their middle age to ask about their work and health.

The Kings College London-led research looked at some 7,100 people.
A quarter of those who’s teachers described them as “often appearing miserable, unhappy tearful or distressed” were found to be permanently sick or disabled. Those described as miserable or unhappy by their teachers were five times more likely to be suffering ill-health in middle age.

These same children were also more likely to be prone to depression.

A quarter of those at school who complained of ‘aches and pains’ missed work as adults through ill health.
But those children who missed school due to poor physical health were no more likely to end
up as adults off work sick.

According to the lead researcher Dr Max Henderson these childhood trends seem to be a contributing factor to ill health in later adult life. These same groups being more susceptible to anxiety and depression.

Dr Alan Maryon Davis “I think there is a common social pattern emerging here. Children who are unhappy and disinterested in school often come from households where parents are disinterested and there is a lot of deprivation. That leads to them not doing well at school, not doing well at work and falling into this cycle”.

‘New’ cross party manifesto

The 1001 Critical Days describes itself as ‘The new vision for the provision of services in the UK for the early years period, which puts forward the moral, scientific and economic case for the importance of the conception to age 2 period’.

Understanding the importance of the mother and child relationship from this time on makes clear the need for more support for women during pregnancy and the first two years of childcare

Would it be too much to hope the infra structure to deliver on this manifesto, namely our children’s centres be reopened and the health care staff who are committed to their work, in the ‘front line’ with many socio / economically deprived families, have their resources improved.

With the infra structure and resources restored this wonderful initiative “1001 Critical Days” will surely reach those who need it the most. (Ed)

How breast milk protects against severe intestinal disease in preterm infants

A study led by Johns Hopkins researchers provides further evidence of breast milk’s ability to boost an infant’s immune system after discovering how breast milk can protect against necrotizing enterocolitis (NEC) a severe intestinal disease that affects preterm babies.

“We have known for some time that breast milk can protect premature babies against intestinal damage but how and why it did so has been somewhat of a mystery,” says Dr. Hackam. “We believe that our findings solve a major piece of the mystery of this disorder.”

NEC is a disease characterized by inflammation and death of intestinal tissue. It is most common in preterm babies, who account for up to 80% of cases. It is a severe disorder, claiming the lives of around 1 in 4 preterm babies who develop it.

At present, treatment for NEC in preterm infants involves the removal of the dead intestinal tissue. While this strategy can be effective, Dr. Hackam and colleagues note that infants are often left with an inadequate intestine, which raises their risk of long-term complications, such as short bowel syndrome.

As such, the researchers say new treatments for NEC are urgently required, and they hope their recent findings may fulfil this need.

These findings emphasize the importance of providing breast milk to preterm infants in order to prevent NEC. Commenting on the team’s findings, study author Dr. Misty Good, of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, PA, says:

“Taken together, our findings show that breast milk that prevents the onset of NEC in two ways, preventing intestinal cells from dying while at the same time restoring the cell growth that promotes gut healing.”

“The discovery of one of the components in breast milk that protects against NEC could pave the way to new therapies for the nearly half-million at-risk premature babies born in this country each year,” she adds.

(BMJ researchers warn of the serious health risks that come with purchasing breast milk online).

Without ’emotional intelligence’ we remain at the mercy of our emotions

Relax the belly – you relax the baby and remembering this and the easiest way to do it can resolve sleep problems, colic, anxiety, constipation, reflux and a whole range of infant ailments associated with abdominal tension.

For mothers also ‘don’t shout breathe out’ is an immediate way of restoring the ‘Emotional Intelligence’ that comes with a relaxed tummy and a quiet mind, especially important during the more stressful moments of infant and childcare.

Unlike most adults, babies live in a ‘here and now’ reality of the moment. They are not preoccupied with the ‘internal dialogue’ that goes around most adult brain.

Sharing ‘here and now’ time with her baby requires the mother be able to quieten obsessive thought and in turning off this internal dialogue reduce the ‘distance’ between her and her child.

For mothers, following the exhalation through to the belly is the quickest and most available means to ‘calm down’. To leave the dictations of the brain to return to a more tranquil state in order to be ‘closer’ to her baby.

In a  landmark report, published in 2000 by The Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development found that a critical aspect of the mother and child relationship  is based on the quality of the nonverbal communication process that takes place between them.

That the child needs nonverbal emotional exchanges with their mothers in a way that communicates their needs and makes them feel understood, secure, and balanced.

Learning a simple breathing technique that can quieten obsessive thought during more stressful moments in childcare is an elementary first step in attachment parenting.

Peter Walker