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The power of a mother’s love

It is a well known ‘old wives tale’ that a mother’s love can protect a child from illness. Her love creates a protective bond around a newborn baby that shields them from harm as they grow.

Now new research conducted by scientists from the University of British Columbia, Canada shows that indeed children who have received copious amounts of ‘maternal warmth’ as children, regardless of their socio-economic status, are less prone to certain illnesses in their adult years.

Scientists have now proved that a child who feels secure in their mother’s love as a child has lower levels of protein molecules that cause inflammation in tissues of the body. In later years this inflammation can develop into conditions such as asthma, cardiovascular disease and depression.

These findings, relating to early childhood and ‘maternal warmth’ have now been published in Molecular Psychiatry, a new online multidisciplinary medical journal.

For the study, Edith Chen and fellow researchers from the University of British Columbia selected 53 adults (aged 25 to 40 years old) whose childhoods had been difficult from a socio-economic point of view, but who now showed no significant differences in their current demographic or behavioural aspects.

The candidates were asked about their early childhood including any economic hardships and their relationship with their mothers. Their immune systems were also tested on immune activation and systemic inflammation patterns.

From this group of 53 it was found that the 26 participants who said their mothers were warm and loving had reduced inflammatory profiles when compared to the remaining 27 people in the study.

The researchers said that these findings were significant because they showed that a loving and secure home atmosphere helped reduce the harmful medical effects of poverty.

The unconditional love of a mother should never be underestimated. It is one of the most important and powerful ingredients in the development of a healthy balanced child who is less likely to suffer from a heart disease and mental health issues later in life.

This ‘maternal warmth’ creates in the child a sense of wellbeing and self worth so that as they grow up they are less prone to depression and feelings of low self esteem.

Austin Health cardiologist Prof David Hare said “having a caring mother is highly beneficial, irrespective of poor social circumstances”.

Writer Helen Splarn. Editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.

Source: Molecular Psychiatry

Posted in Culture & Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

One Response to The power of a mother’s love

  1. Toni McLean says:

    I don’t think these results would surprise anyone. We know that partners in genuinely satisfying relationships are healthier and live longer. When we feel secure and loved we are less stressed, the immune system is less likely to be compromised, etc.

    What concerns me about this kind of study is twofold.

    Firstly, as a practising counsellor I am increasingly aware of the growing phenomenon of the overly indulged child now reaching partnering and parenting age, who behaves like a little prince or princess in relationships. They will say that their parents, mothers in particular, showed them lots of love and affection. Unfortunately, what they didn’t provide was rules, limits, boundaries, how to give and take. So what is being seen as wonderful maternal (or paternal) love, is in fact indulgence. These children grow up to be spoilt brats who expect their partners, indeed the whole world, to indulge them as their parent(s) did. This may be less true for the age group in this survey, where parental love was more likely to have been provided as part of a healthy authoritative parental style. Unfortunately, the indulgent parents who will be reading the summary of the results in a parenting or women’s magazine, will not get that.

    The second thing that concerns me is the kind of enmeshed mothering (or fathering) that can smother children, and actually make them feel anxious for their own survival. Parents who hover and over-protect, under the guise of being very loving and supportive, actually induce a state of helplessness and fear in their children, which leaves them more prone to illness, both physical and mental. Again, parents like these reading a Readers Digest condensed version of this kind of study will feel validated in their parenting behaviour, when in fact it is harmful to their children.

    Given that both of these parenting styles, ie love without rules and smother-love, abound in the western world today, I would have liked this blog to have included some provisos.

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