The Mothers' Stress Test

Daily Mail (London), August 29, 2007 | Go to article overview

The Mothers' Stress Test


Byline: David Derbyshire

THE way a mother holds her baby holds clues to her mental health,scientists claim.

Those who cradle a baby with their right arm are more likely to be sufferingfrom stress than those who use their left.

The British research team who performed the study say the findings could helpidentify women at risk of depression.

In the past, scientists have found that most parents cradle children on theirleft-hand side, regardless of whether they are right or lefthanded.

But so far the reason remains a mystery.

Some believe that left-sided cuddling places a child's head next to theirparent's heart and that the sound of a heart beat can be comforting.

Others argue that the preference is linked to the structure of the brain. Theleft side of the body is controlled by the right half of the brain - the sidethat deals with emotions and intuition.

The latest study, published in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry,looked at the behaviour of 79 new mothers in their own homes.

The mothers were asked to pick up their babies and cradle them in their armsnaturally, and were also quizzed on their mental state.

Forty-four of the mothers were showing signs of baby-related stress.

Among these women, 32 per cent used their right arm to hold their child.

Of those who reported no symptoms of stress or depression, just 14 per centcradled their babies on their right side.

Although the numbers taking part in the study were small, the scientists saythe results are statistically significant. …

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