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Moms May Be “Addicted” To That New Baby Smell, Study Reveals

Update Date: Sep 26, 2013 09:13 AM EDT

The smell of newborn babies may be as addictive as the smell of food or drugs for moms, a new study reveals.

A study published in the Frontiers in Psychology has revealed that the smell of newborn babies activates the same part of the brain which the smell of satisfying food or sex triggers.

According to the report, it is nearly the same feeling an addict gets from drugs.

“The olfactory—thus non-verbal and non-visual—chemical signals for communication between mother and child are intense,” said Johannes Frasnelli, a postdoctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Montreal’s Department of Psychology.

“What we have shown for the first time is that the odor of newborns, which is part of these signals, activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers,” he said. “It is in fact the sating of desire,” he later added.

As a part of the research around 30 women were taken into consideration. Researchers tested the newborn smells, which were collected from the pajamas of the babies who wore them for two days after birth on all of the women. 

“This circuit makes us desire certain foods and causes addiction to tobacco and other drugs,” Frasnelli explained. “Not all odors trigger this reaction. Only those associated with reward, such as food or satisfying a desire, cause this activation.”

The effect on fathers are unclear as they were not a part of the research.

“It is possible that childbirth causes hormonal changes that alter the reward circuit in the caudate nucleus, but it is also possible that experience plays a role,” said Frasnelli.

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