Monday, February 24, 2014

The Truth About How Mom's Stress Affects Baby's Brain

baby temprament test 

A dancing robot is used to test babies' tempraments at the University of Denver lab of Elysia Poggi Davis. 

My daughter is sitting in a high chair, watching a black-and-white robot almost as big as she is bust a move.

A Vegas floor show this is not, but for a 7-month-old, a dancing robot is either fascinating or terrifying. How my daughter (or any baby) responds to such a display can reveal the child's temperament. And that, among other things, is what brought us here to this cheerful neurodevelopment lab decorated with cartoons of zebras and giraffes.

Here at the University of Denver, psychologists are working to understand how the early environment affects a child's life course — but the environment that researchers Elysia Poggi Davis and Pilyoung Kim are interested in isn't just the home or the neighborhood, but also the womb. 

Stress hormones (and medications that mimic them) may have long-lasting effects on infants, Davis and Kim have found. And exposure in the womb is where it all begins.

"I think we're becoming aware that we have to start thinking of these things during pregnancy, not waiting until after the baby is born," Davis told Live Science. [7 Ways Pregnant Women Affect Their Babies]

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