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Why should we care about stress in babies?
Nobody wants a stressed-out baby. The
stress is contagious, making everyone miserable. And when the stress is chronic — a regular feature of everyday life — children face long-term health consequences.If babies are exposed to high levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, they are
more likely to develop behavior problems and stress-related diseases later in
life (Asok et al 2013; Luby et al 2013). In the worst case scenario, toxic
stress may alter brain growth and shorten the lifespan.
But there is good news for parents
feeling the strain: We can do a lot to protect babies from the effects of toxic
stress.For example, experiments on nonhuman
animals show that infants exposed to lots of nurturing touch are more likely to
develop into stress-resilient adults – even if they were born with risk factors
for stress-related problems (Meaney 2001). And the same seems to be true for…
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