A new study has found that holding babies is so important, it changes their DNA
Both my babies, but especially my little boy, were total 'koala babies' – as in; they wanted to be held and snuggled and carried around (preferably by me) a lot.
I can't even tell you the amount of times I was told that I was spoiling them by letting them fall asleep on me or beside me in bed at night, and how certain people would just roll their eyes at me when I explained that I didn't mind them needing me so intensly. In fact; not only did I not mind it, I loved it. But that didn't stop a lot of people from sharing their opinions and "advice" with me.
However, as it turns out (not that I find it surprising) study after study has shown that you can't spoil a baby. I mean – come on.
Also, as it turns out, being held is actually so imporatant to babies, it can even impact their DNA. That's right – their entire genetic code can be altered by being held close by someone they love and who loves them.
According to a new study coming out of the University of British Columbia how often a child is touched can leave lasting, measurable effects. Like; we are talking at a molecular level. To produce this data, scientists at the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute followed about 100 infants over the course of four years. Parents were asked to keep a journal following their children’s behavior (eating, sleeping, crying, etc.), and then they were asked to detail how often they provided care that included physical touch.
When the children were four years old, scientists swabbed the inside of their cheeks, collecting DNA. These samples were then compared to determine the differences between children who were held often and those who were not. According to the press release, the team examined a biochemical modification called DNA methylation, which affects how the cells function and mature. What they found was significant.
The children who received less physical touch had a lower “epigenetic age”–less molecular maturation–than would be expected for their age. And it is important to note that such a discrepancy has been linked to poor health and negative growth patterns in children. With this data, an easy correlation was made: Children who are touched less have negative health implications on a cellular level.
This is what lead study author, Sarah Moore, had to say: “If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants.”