Lack of cuddles in infancy may affect development of brain


Artykuł pochodzi z pisma "Guardian"

• Anxiety in adulthood linked to early deprivation
• Stress and relationship problems may result

Depriving young children of cuddles and attention subtly changes how their brains develop and in later life can leave them anxious and poor at forming relationships, according to a study published today. Love and affection from parents and carers are vital to developing brain pathways associated with handling stress and forming social bonds, the researchers found.
Seth Pollak, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin, and colleagues compared the progress of children being raised by their biological parents in America with children who had come from crowded orphanages in Russia and Romania and had been adopted by American parents.
"When these [orphanage] children were babies there were so few adults around that there was rarely one available to respond to their needs," said Dr Pollak.
The children in the groups had an average age of 4.5 years, and the orphans had been settled with their foster parents for two years and 10 months on average.
Eighteen of 39 children studied were from orphanages. They were observed at home playing interactive games and sitting on their mother's lap.
Before and after this physical contact, the children provided a urine sample to measure levels of two hormones: vasopressin, thought to help us recognise familiar individuals and live in social groups; and oxytocin, the release of which makes us feel secure and protected, and lowers our stress level.
Children from orphanages had lower baseline levels of vasopressin and, unlike children raised by their biological parents, their levels of oxytocin did not rise with cuddling. The study appears in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences today.
"It is remarkable that the children's deficiencies in these affection hormones could still be detected now, after the children spent three years in loving adoptive homes," said Terrie Moffitt, a developmental psychiatrist at Kings College London. "An unanswered question is whether or not the hormonal deficiencies will result in any behavioural difficulties for the children in the long term."
The researchers suspect that if deprived of close adult contact soon after birth, children will never fully develop the pathways. "It used to be thought that the brain came all wired up, but now it seems that social experiences after birth are vital for opening up the pathways and strengthening the connections in the brain for these hormones," said Dr Pollak.
The groups plans a follow-up study with the same children to see if this is the case. "It suggests we need to pay a lot more attention to children growing up in deprived environments," said Dr Pollak.
He also speculates that giving children plenty of cuddles at birth leads to an addiction to close relationships in late life.
"The area of the brain that acts as the receptor for oxytocin is also the reward centre associated with drug addictions. It is possible that close relationships function like an addiction, making us go and seek them out in later life," he said.

according to- według
addiction- uzależnienie
associated (with)- związany (z)
available- dostępny
baseline level- poziom podstawowy, poziom zerowy
cuddle- uścisk, przytulenie
deprive- pozbawiać
deficiency- brak, niedobór
deprivation- pozbawienie, utrata
detect- odkrywać, wykrywać
lap- kolana
orphanage- sierociniec; dom dziecka
oxytocin- oksytocyna (hormon)
pathway- ścieżka, droga
pay attention to- zwracac uwagę na
release- uwalniać
remarkable- godny uwagi
researcher- badacz, naukowiec
reward centre- ośrodek nagrody
social bonds- więzi społeczne
vasopressin- wazopresyna (hormon)
vital- żywotny, niezbędny, zasadniczy, podstawowy, istotny
wired up- powiązany, połączony


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