DURHAM, N.C., July 29 (UPI) — Infants who get plenty of affection from their mothers cope better as adults, U.S. researchers suggest.
Joanna Maselko of Duke University in Durham, N.C., and colleagues followed up on data collected in the early 1960s in Rhode Island that tracked interactions between pairs of 8-month-old infants and their mothers observed by professional psychologists, who evaluated the mothers along a scale ranging from “negative” to “caressing” to “extravagant.”
The researchers assessed mental health of the children when they reached age 34 using a validated symptom checklist, which captures anxiety, hostility and general levels of distress.
When the children were 8 months, one in 10 interactions were characterized by a low level of maternal affection, 85 percent were characterized by normal levels of affection and 6 percent were characterized by very high levels of maternal affection.
The study, published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, finds those whose mothers had been observed to be the most affectionate at 8 months had the lowest levels of anxiety, hostility and general distress at age 34.
High levels of maternal affection are likely to facilitate secure attachments and bonding, which not only lowers distress, but enables a child to develop effective life, social and coping skills, the authors say.
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