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. #