Friday, June 26, 2009

Stress Gene Found in Infants (we kid you not)

Stress Week installment 4 of 4
If Discovery Channel presents Shark Week for your entertainment each summer, then we at can present "Stress Week" so that you enjoy a stress-free and fun-filled summer.

Everyone gets stressed, even babies, according to a recent Newswise release. Now, it appears how infants respond to stress is linked to if they have a particular form of a certain gene, according to a new study from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Just as significantly, researchers say they have also found that good parenting – as early as within the first year of a child’s life – can counter the effect the gene has in babies who initially do not respond well to stressful situations.

“Infancy is an important time for developing behavioral and biological processes,” said the study’s lead author, Cathi Propper, Ph.D., research scientist at UNC’s Center for Developmental Science. “Although these processes will continue to change over time, parenting can have important positive effects even when children have inherited a genetic vulnerability to problematic behaviors.”

Propper said the study found both genes and parenting were important to the development of how infants’ brains help regulate cardiac responses to stress.
Propper said the findings suggest that although genes play a role in the development of physiological responses to stress, environmental experiences – such as mothers’ sensitive care-giving behavior – can have a strong influence, enough to change the effect that genes have on physiology very early in life.

“Our findings provide further support for the notion that the development of complex behavioral and physiological responses is not the result of nature or nurture, but rather a combination of the two,” Propper said.

We hope you have enjoyed Stress Week here at and have a wonderful summer!