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Breastfeeding may reduce stress in babies: Study


Press Trust of India Washington
Breastfeeding can cause changes in the gene activity of the baby and make them less reactive to stress, a study has found.
Researchers from Brown University in the US looked at over 40 full-term, healthy infants and their mothers, one-half of whom breastfed for the first five months and one-half of whom did not.
They measured the cortisol stress reactivity in infant saliva using a mother-infant interaction procedure.
They also measures DNA methylation -- change in the activity of the DNA segment -- of an important regulatory region of the glucocorticoid receptor gene which regulates development, metabolism, and immune response.
The research, published in the journal Pediatrics, suggests that breastfeeding induces genetic changes that reduce stress in babies.
"What we found is that maternal care changes the activity of a gene in their infants that regulates the infant's physiological response to stress, specifically the release of the hormone cortisol," said Barry M Lester, from Brown University.
"Breastfeeding was associated with decreased DNA methylation and decreased cortisol reactivity in the infants. In other words, there was an epigenetic change in the babies who were breastfed, resulting in reduced stress than those who were not breastfed," said Lester.

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First Published: Sep 27 2018 | 2:00 PM IST

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