When a mother holds her baby, she doesn’t exactly quantify her reasoning for doing so. It’s just an instinct. But in a world where everything is increasingly analyzed, taken apart, quantified and measured, a failure to understand the necessity of something that is instinctual could lead to disaster.

In other words, a person may know something is important, but without scientific evidence for why it is important, their decision might be frowned upon by authorities who increasingly try to exert influence over people’s lives.

Now thankfully, there is more quantifiable evidence that proves babies are affected down to the molecular level in their DNA by receiving more or less affection. Such evidence could be cited in court cases.

For decades scientists have quantified how touch is essential for a child’s healthy development, as cited in an article in the journal Pediatric Child Health.

Now, a new study from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute kept track of about 100 infants over the course of 4 years. They requested that parents of 5 week old babies keep a journal of their behavior, things such as feeding, crying, sleeping, ect. They asked them to document exactly how long and how often they held their babies or gave them physical contact.

As the children grew to nearly 5 years old, the researchers swabbed their cheeks for DNA samples. They looked for differences between the children who were given lots of touch and affection as infants, and those who received less. Sure enough, the ones who received less affection had less mature cells: stunted growth.

According to the Miami Herald:

“The researchers looked at a process called DNA methylation, the scientists explained in the release. In a body cell, there are structures called chromosomes that contain the genetic code of a person. They determine things like sex, physical appearance, and how the body operates and grows.

In DNA methylation, some parts of the chromosome are “tagged” with molecules that can control how active that portion is, the scientists explained in the release. Scientists can generally predict how this should go as we age.”

The researchers compared the children’s DNA methylation, and found consistent differences between the low-affection and high-affection kids. The ones who received less affection had cells that were less mature than they should be at that age. Long lasting delays in growth and development could literally occur from this.

“We plan to follow up on whether the ‘biological immaturity’ we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development,” said Sarah Moore, the lead author. “If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants.”

In my opinion, there are certain things a parent should have the right to decide, and parents should not be subject to intense scrutiny from the state on how they are raising their children when all is peaceful, because proof of a parental decision being “good” is not always as quantifiable as this.

Since this is so quantifiable, Child Protective Services (CPS) and other government entities known to take children away for decisions that are not necessarily bad, but in disagreement with the state, should be informed of the research.

When CPS takes a child, for instance, for the parent’s decision to not vaccinate, the court should be informed of research like this, proving that physical and emotional damage is done to a child who is deprived of affection and connection to their parents.

This research should be oft-cited and widely understood.

Past research that backs up this study was cited by the Miami Herald:

“One of the most well-known studies on the subject was performed by American psychologist Harry Harlow on rhesus monkeys in the 1950s. Harlow separated monkeys from their real mothers and had them drink milk from either a cold, wire lookalike mother or a different lookalike mother covered in soft cloth. The monkeys spent much more time with the comforting cloth mother, and when Harlow gave them no choice, the monkeys who only had the choice of the cold, wire mother had severe behavioral abnormalities – and they stayed that way even if being introduced to more nurturing environments later, according to a summary from the University of Oregon.

Other studies have found similar results in humans. One found that children who grew up in orphanages away from traditional nurturing had much higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, and another found that touch-deprived infants have abnormal levels of hormones that regulate social behavior.”


Image: dailypicksandflicks.