A recent study shows how snuggling with infants during early stages of development can have a profound impact on their biology later on in life.
When we hug our bodies release a small dose of oxytocin, otherwise known as the love hormone. We have known for a while that this neurotransmitter is associated with love and intimacy, but if you are looking for another reason to have a cuddle, this new study may be of interest.
A recent study from the University of British Columbia (UBC) has shown that cuddling infants during their early years can can influence epigenetic changes in their DNA. These include areas related to metabolism and the immune system. In contrast the infants who had less snuggles in this time have an underdeveloped molecular profile for their age.
There have been Previous studies on rodents showing similar results, however, this is the first study on the effects in humans.
“In children, we think slower epigenetic aging could reflect less favorable developmental progress,” Said Michael Kobor, a professor at UBC’s Department of Medical Genetics.
The recently published study from the journal Development and Psychopathology, asked parents of 94 babies to keep a diary of their infants. This included behavior, such as the amount of touching and contact they had 5 weeks after birth. Four to five years later, they took DNA samples from the same children.
They then monitored the epigenetic process of DNA methylation. Epigenetics – meaning “on top of” genetics – shows how the methylation is affected by environmental influences, especially in early years.
Their findings showed a consistent differences in the level of methylation for five DNA sites from the children who experienced a high level of contact to those who had not. One of the major findings was of a site known for its role in our immune development and metabolism.
There is still room for more research, however, this is a step in the right direction for discovering how cuddles and love can affect us in later life. “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 lead author Sarah Moore “If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants.”
So, it turns out that science may be starting to agree that all you need is love (and hugs) please share this article.
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I am Luke Miller the author of this article, and creator of Potential For Change. I like to blend psychology and spirituality to help you create more happiness in your life.Grab a copy of my free 33 Page Illustrated eBook- Psychology Meets Spirituality- Secrets To A Supercharged Life You Control Here