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Early nurturing helps stress defences

Research shows adults develop better coping mechanisms if they were showered with affection as babies by their mothers.

The findings concluded that "long-lasting positive effects on mental health well into adulthood" could be achieved by nurturing and warmth in early life.

The interactions between mothers and their eight-month-old babies were assessed by the latest study.

Mothers were analysed to see how well they coped with their child's developmental tests and how they responded to their child's performance.

The psychologists ranked levels of affection from negative or occasionally negative to warm, caressing or extravagant.

The mother's affection was then categorised: low (combining negative and occasionally negative), normal (warm) and high (caressing and extravagant).

Overall, one in 10 mother-child interactions showed low levels of maternal affection, 85% showed normal levels and 6% showed very high levels.

These included stress, hostility, anger, sensitivity and anxiety, and participants were ranked on a scale from not at all distressed by the symptom to extremely distressed.

The experts, from North Carolina, Massachusetts and Rhode Island in the US, published their findings in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.

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Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health