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Mother's Care Determines Child's Brain Size: Study

Update Date: Oct 30, 2012 08:57 AM EDT

The relationship between a mother and child is perhaps the most sacred, intense and beautiful of all. A mother's care and nourishment is of utmost importance to the child's development and shapes his/her life ahead.

A new study suggests that a nurturing mother not only cares for a child emotionally, but apparently, it also determines the size of her child's brain.

When scientists scanned and compared the brains of two 3-year-old children, they found that the one who had been treated nicely and nourished by its mother had a considerably larger brain with fewer spots and lesser dark areas, compared to the neglected child.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, the mother of the child with a larger and fully-developed brain looked after her child well, and was also constantly responsive to her baby.

The report says that the neglected child's brain lacks some of the most fundamental areas present in the nourished child's brain and the consequences of such a difference would be that the child with the larger brain will be more intelligent and more likely to develop the social ability to empathize with others, Mail Online reported.

The child with a shrunken brain, on the other hand, is more susceptible to drug abuse and being violent in the future. He could also develop problems related to health or mental abilities.

If a child is not treated well in the initial two years of his life, it could have a permanent impact on his development, Professor Allan Schore, of UCLA, was quoted as saying by The Sunday Telegraph.

It could affect the brain function and intelligence of the child with the severity of mother's neglect being directly proportional to the damage to the child's brain.

The study findings raise concerns about neglected children who are taken into care after age two.

The current study correlates to another research published earlier which suggested that maternal love and affection made children smarter with a better ability to learn.

The study was conducted by child psychiatrists and neuroscientists at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. They found that children who received ample love and care from their mothers had a larger hippocampus, a key structure important to learning, memory and response to stress, according to Mail Online.

The research is published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences Early Edition.

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