Maternal Contact May Lead To Emphatic Children Later in Life

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Studies show that maternal contact makes emphatic children. That is why experts suggest that mothers should show their baby their love to get a kinder and gender adult child. 

More than 20 years ago, experts in Israel started studying the effect of maternal contact on babies. They followed these babies who were born in the mid to late 1990s for two decades. 

The recent study

Based on nearly 100 young adults, the latest results show that the maternal contact they received all those years ago had a significant effect on their social brain functioning. It made emphatic children relate to others. 

The study included three categories for the babies-first, full-term healthy babies who could easily have maternal contact with their moms. 

Second, preemies who were incubated and for at least a couple of weeks could not have maternal contact with their moms. The third is more stable preemies whose moms committed to holding them, skin-to-skin, for at least an hour per day for at least 14 days. 

The third group of babies would have had limited maternal contact with their moms during the study. Still, their moms' warmth took the place of their incubators for those hours. 

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Maternal contact and empathic children

Experts of this study believed that closeness to the mother's body would help the children for many reasons, such as attachment and self-regulation, just like any other that needs all the means in the mother's body physical closeness. 

Over time, mothers and their children built more complex abilities to see the other person's side, allowing them to have their own opinions. 

In early adulthood, experts observed the grown children's brains. 

The empathic behavior during adulthood

Experts mentioned that what they look for in the brain was the brain's ability to relate to others' different feelings that explain emphatic children's behavior. 

That includes their ability to empathize with the other person's sadness and distress and their ability to empathize with other people's joy. 

The study adds to the data that the early stages of life are vital and even called their research groundbreaking. 

Experts also observed that parents become more sensitive to their baby's cues when they are in close or direct contact with them, even if it is not skin-to-skin. 

For those preemies who did not receive the type of contact in their early weeks of life, when they went home to loving and comforting parents, they still did well. 


Although the study did not focus on the fathers' relation and contact with their children, experts said that when fathers are engaged early on, they can still make them emphatic children.

They said that when fathers are committed to taking care of their babies, there are pathways that would make fathers just as helpful to the baby. 

In conclusion, experts believed that any loving and stable relationships in the child's life are vital. They also added that fathers would be significant, and the parents most likely will be more helpful than grandparents. However, grandparents can be quite beneficial as well. 

The study was published online in the journal PNAS.

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