A call to mom calms stressed kids, study shows

Wed May 12, 2010 12:10pm EDT
 
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SINGAPORE (Reuters Life!) - A mother's voice is enough to calm her children, new research shows, which is likely to alleviate some of the guilt many women feel at being only able to reach out to their offspring through a telephone.

U.S. researchers, seeking to find out how much vocal interaction with a loved one affects people, tested the levels of the calming hormone -- oxytocin -- on pre-adolescent daughters who had been subjected to a stressful situation.

The 61 girls, aged between 7 and 12 years, were all asked to conduct a presentation in front of strangers, and then divided into three groups.

One group was physically comforted by their mothers after the event; a second group spoke to their mothers by telephone, but did not see them while the third group did not have any sort of interaction with their mothers at all.

The children's stress hormones were monitored throughout the process, and the researchers found that those who were comforted by their mothers -- whether physically or just verbally -- produced similar levels of oxytocin.

"Humans lacking social support from family and friends have poorer health outcomes than their better-connected peers. Vocal cues may be able to provide some of the same relief from these outcomes as direct interpersonal interaction including touch," the researchers said.

"Our results suggest that vocalizations may be as important as touch to the neuroendocrine regulation of social bonding in our species."

The research was published in the journal Proceedings of The Royal Society B.

(Writing by Miral Fahmy, editing by Krittivas Mukherjee)

 
<p>An Acehnese mother plays with her child at the Lhoknga beach, on the outskirts of Banda Aceh city December 4, 2005. REUTERS/Supri</p>