Navigation Links
UNC study: Parenting can override effect of genes in how babies respond to stress
Date:9/22/2008

CHAPEL HILL Everyone gets stressed, even babies.

Now, it appears how infants respond to stress is linked to if they have a particular form of a certain gene, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Just as significantly, researchers say they have also found that good parenting as early as within the first year of a child's life can counter the effect the gene has in babies who initially do not respond well to stressful situations.

"Infancy is an important time for developing behavioral and biological processes," said the study's lead author, Cathi Propper, Ph.D., research scientist at UNC's Center for Developmental Science. "Although these processes will continue to change over time, parenting can have important positive effects even when children have inherited a genetic vulnerability to problematic behaviors."

The study findings appear in the September/October 2008 issue of the journal Child Development.

Researchers looked at 142 infants over the first year of their lives, when the children were 3, 6 and 12 months old. On each occasion, they were placed in a stressful situation being separated from their mothers and researchers measured the infants' heart rates, looking specifically at a type of cardiac response called vagal tone. Vagal tone acts like a brake on the heart when the body is in a calm state, but during challenging situations, the brake is withdrawn and the level of vagal tone goes down, allowing heart rate to increase so the body can actively deal with the challenge.

Researchers also collected DNA from the infants to see which form of a dopamine receptor gene they carried. Previous studies have shown that adolescents and adults with specific forms of this gene are more likely to have problems such as aggression, substance abuse and other risky behaviors.

When the babies were 6 months old, researchers also videotaped the mothers and their infants playing together for 10 minutes, and assessed whether the mothers' behavior was high or low in sensitivity.

Propper said the study found both genes and parenting were important to the development of how infants' brains help regulate cardiac responses to stress.

At 3 and 6 months old, infants with the form of the dopamine gene associated with risky behaviors did not display a decrease in vagal tone when stressed, while those with the non-risk version of the gene did. At these early ages, it did not appear to matter whether mothers were sensitive or not, Propper said.

However, by the time the infants were 12 months old, the pattern changed. Infants with the risk form of the gene whose mothers were highly sensitive now showed the expected cardiac response when under stress while those with the at-risk gene form who had insensitive mothers did not.

Propper said the findings suggest that although genes play a role in the development of physiological responses to stress, environmental experiences such as mothers' sensitive care-giving behavior can have a strong influence, enough to change the effect that genes have on physiology very early in life.

"Our findings provide further support for the notion that the development of complex behavioral and physiological responses is not the result of nature or nurture, but rather a combination of the two," Propper said. "They also illustrate the importance of parenting not just for the development of children's behavior, but for the underlying physiological mechanisms that support this behavior.

"Infancy is an important time for developing behavioral and biological processes. Although these processes will continue to change over time, parenting can have important positive effects even when children have inherited a genetic vulnerability to problematic behaviors," Propper said.


'/>"/>

Contact: Patric Lane
patric_lane@unc.edu
919-962-8596
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Source:Eurekalert

Related medicine news :

1. Study: Delaying evolution of drug resistance in malaria parasite possible
2. U. of Chicago study: More than 10 percent of older Americans suffer mistreatment
3. UNC study: chilling hardship rates among families raising disabled children
4. UNC study: Two-thirds of severe sports injuries to female students due to cheerleading
5. UNC study: shape, not just size, impacts effectiveness of emerging nanomedicine therapies
6. Study: verbal aggression may affect childrens behavior
7. UNC study: Common vaginal infection may increase risk of HIV infection
8. Brain cancer study: Magnitude of post-vaccine immune response linked to clinical outcomes
9. UNC study: Out-of-pocket health care costs for disabled children vary widely by state
10. Study: Global Business Performance Significantly Improved Through Project Management
11. Geisinger study: PTSD causes early death from heart disease
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... ... and clinical practice of radiosurgery, is recognizing five medical residents and students for ... stereotactic body radiotherapy (SBRT). The awards will be presented at the 2016 SRS/SBRT ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... 24, 2016 , ... Bio-Logic Aqua® Research Water Life Science® ... a trainer for Ageless Grace ( http://www.agelessgrace.com ) to discuss healthier lifestyles, especially ... 2016. , Formerly a Northwestern University Literature Professor, Kinst gravitated to her career ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... May 24, 2016 , ... In light of recent ... of the potential of contaminated well water throughout the Houston area. , Heavy floodwaters ... well water that’s exposed to contaminants. Residents may not even be aware of the ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... ... 2016 , ... The Dream Builders Project, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization based in ... in Tijuana, Mexico on Saturday, May 21st. The volunteers took the children out for ... More than 15 volunteers traveled from Los Angeles to Tijuana, Mexico for the day ...
(Date:5/24/2016)... Greenwich, Connecticut (PRWEB) , ... May 24, 2016 ... ... of Lyme and tick-borne disease research and education, today announced that it has ... and CEO of the Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation (ALCF) in San ...
Breaking Medicine News(10 mins):
(Date:5/23/2016)... , May 23, 2016 Diplomat Pharmacy, Inc. (NYSE: ... Fellowship and Internship programs. The hands-on learning experience is ... The full-time, paid Fellowship and Internship ... . Fellows and interns are provided optional housing ... Flint at the Riverfront Residence Hall to ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... The World Health Organization (WHO) expanded the Intended ... adolescents aged 13 years, and above. Effective immediately, the PrePex ... and adolescent males in the 14 priority countries in Southern ... first male circumcision device to receive WHO Prequalification on 31 ... said: " The expanded use of PrePex ...
(Date:5/23/2016)... 2016 The global  reprocessed medical ... by 2022, according to a new study by Grand ... coupled with the lack of centralized support for waste ... the demand for reprocessed medical devices market. Additionally, the ... that of the original device is the high impact ...
Breaking Medicine Technology: