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Study: Baby's First Smile Gives Mom a 'Natural High'

Posted by Chrissie Cole
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 4:34 AM EST
Category: Major Medical, Protecting Your Family
Tags: Parenting, Mental Health, Children's Health, Psychology, Women's Health



© iStockphoto / mom and newborn / author: iDerLander

When a mom first sees her new baby smile – not only does she fall in love instantly - it stimulates the reward centers of her brain, according to a new study published in the latest issue of the Journal of Pediatrics.

The study involved 28 first-time moms with infants aged 5 to 10 months, asked to view photos of their smiling babies while researcher’s performed MRI scans on the brains of the mothers to detect any changes in the brains chemical structure.

In some of the photos, babies were happy or smiling. Others were sad and some had neutral expressions.

The study found mothers watching their babies smile experienced a rush of dopamine – similar to the “feel good feeling” people feel when using nicotine or drugs.

A woman’s crying infant, or her baby with a neutral expression, does not evoke the same brain response that occurs when her baby is smiling.

The feelings mom feels looking at her smiling baby can be compared to that of a natural high, said Dr. Lane Strathearn, a pediatrics professor at Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital and the lead investigator of research.

This is known as the mechanism in which mothers become consumed by their baby, says P. Read Montague, a neuroscientist and co-leader of the study. “All good mothers are addicted to their new babies; they will go above and beyond the call of duty.”

The results of the study will help doctors to better understand maternal devotion between mother and baby and what sometimes goes wrong and why some mothers never bond with their babies, according to researchers. #


Posted by Polina
Tuesday, July 08, 2008 10:49 AM EST

True. I do feel happy when see my daughter smiling since her very first days - even if on the photo. Her smile is like a Sun, so warming and calming:)

Anonymous User
Posted by Lauren
Wednesday, July 09, 2008 12:24 PM EST

I am not a mother but have extensive experience in child care. I feel a similar rush... can't even imagine how much more intense it would be for my own child!!

Comments for this article are closed.

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