Less hypothalamic stress is experienced by babies who are breastfed if they are compared to newborns with less breastfeeding. A special study shows such data, which was attended by 42 healthy five-month-old babies and their mothers.
Half of all newborn babies in this research group were breastfed constantly from their birth (the group with high breastfeeding level), while another half of babies had an access to milk through breastfeeding only for three weeks or did not receive this nutrition at all (the group with low breastfeeding level).
Specialists also examined infant saliva before and 30 minutes after the mother-infant interaction behavior for analyzing the reactivity of cortisol (a stress hormone) . It is noteworthy that the mother did not show any involvement in the process of communicating with the child and adhered to the detached facial expression. (During the study, the face with no emotions confirmed cortisol reactivity connected with DNA methylation of a significant regulatory region of the glucocorticoid receptor gene.)
The group of newborns with high breastfeeding level had a lower percentage of DNA methylation of the glucocorticoid receptor promoter, and the reactivity of cortisol decreased compared to another group with low breastfeeding.
This breastfeeding research is using the results of the study as a demonstration of how the behavior of the mother can cause a change in the genes and a long-term reaction of infants’ stress response. This is another confirmation of the fact that it is necessary to support mothers in their aspirations to breastfeed their babies, as well as to monitor social and medical conditions that reduce the ability of mothers to raise their newborns.