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Effects of Comforting Contact on Genetic Growth of Infants

Love, care is usually expressed through physical contact and touch. Have we ever wondered that lack of closeness and comforting contact can cause lifelong consequences on genetic expression in infants?

To establish a relationship between touch and genetic expression, a research has been conducted by the University of British Columbia and BC Children's Hospital Research Institute. The researchers involved 94 healthy children in British Columbia. The parents of 5-week-old babies were asked to maintain a diary of their infants' behaviour (such as sleeping, fussing, and crying) and duration of caregiving involving bodily contact. The DNA of these children was then sampled when they were 4 1/2 years old. The researchers examined consistent methylation differences between high- contact and low- contact children at five specific DNA sites. Two of these sites fall within genes, playing an important role in immune system and metabolism. The researchers found that children who received less physical contact as infants exhibited epigenetic age that was lower than their actual age. This discrepancy is associated with poor health. Slower epigenetic aging indicates an inability to thrive. As a result, they concluded that the amount of physical contact between infants and their caregivers affects children at molecular level.

By: Anuja Arora


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