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Infants pick up on mothers' fears

Tags: children

Mothers who are anxious about their babies having vaccinations could be passing their fears on to their infants, research has shown.

The study, completed at Durham University, examined the pain expressions of 50 two-month-old babies before, during and after the injections.

Researchers found that children with first-time mothers showed considerably more pain both before the needle was inserted and during the vaccination, compared to babies who had experienced mothers.

They suggested that this difference could be a direct result of the mother's anxiety about the procedure.

Following the vaccinations the mothers were also asked to estimate how much pain was felt by their baby during the jabs.

Results showed that both experienced and first-time mums overestimated how much pain their child suffered.

Dr Nadja Reissland, from Durham University's department of psychology, led the research and explained that all mums are a bit apprehensive about their baby having their first immunisations, but said it is more daunting for mothers going through it for the first time.

She explained that this distress is then "somehow felt" by the infant, who experiences more pain as a result.

"It is possible that first-time mothers get more stressed about taking their baby for their immunisations due to the unfamiliarity of the process, and how much pain they believe their babies are in could stop them from taking their babies for follow-up vaccinations. This could result in children having incomplete immunisations," she added.

With this in mind she recommended that mothers try to remain as calm, collected and comfortable as possible to help reduce their babies' anxiety.

For more information about child health visit our Pregnancy and Caring for your Child Centre.

Source Copyright Press Association 2013

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