Motherly love can help babies' brains grow at twice the rate of neglected youngsters - study
Motherly love and nurturing can help babies' brains grow at twice the rate of neglected youngsters, a study has shown.
It was known that a loving home life improves childhood development but this is the first research to show it has a big impact on brain size.
Children who got the most support from their mothers before school were found to have more growth in the hippocampus, which helps with learning, memories and regulating emotions.
Crucially, those youngsters who were more neglected when they were under six did not catch up, even when their mothers became more supportive in later years.
"This study suggests there's a sensitive period when the brain responds more to maternal support," said first author Dr Joan Luby, Washington University child psychiatrist at St Louis Children's Hospital.
"The parent-child relationship during the pre-school period is vital, even more important than when the child gets older. We think that's due to greater plasticity in the brain when kids are younger, meaning that the brain is affected more by experiences very early in life. That suggests it's vital that kids receive nurturing during those early years." (© Daily Telegraph, London)