“The stress of maternal separation can produce changes in the neural-circuit functions, which can appear as dependence or substance abuse in later life.”
“You’re not my mommy.”
How childcare changes kids’ brains
Feb 13, 2020
Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine – Child-rearing is culturally determined, varying between countries. For thousands of years in most cultures, it has been kinship groups and parents, especially mothers, who have been central.
Parenting changed in the mid-20th century, partly through better educational opportunities for women, partly through reliable birth control and partly through cultural agreement on female emancipation. Hence, many more women have entered work and universities.
Mothers of children aged under three years now increasingly go out to work.
Government loves daycare
In England, 75% of women with dependent children work (Office of National Statistics, 2019), while their very young children are often placed in daycare with carers unknown to the child.
Governments encourage this, first, because work is an important counter to poverty.
Second, a working mother contributes to the gross domestic product, as does her childminder, with UK estimates suggesting an average gain of £20,000 over four years.
In the UK, a substantial bonus to reduce childcare costs is paid per child to working parents.
Humans, as mammals with relatively big brains, but comparatively narrow birth canals, ensured evolutionary survival by being born more immature than other mammals.
Newborn lambs can walk at birth: human babies need about a year. Newborn human brains are exceptionally adaptable or ‘plastic’.
Mothers are primed by biological stimuli. Pregnancy for nine months, oxytocin release, and breastfeeding combine to generate caring feelings.
The remarkable power of human bonding is revealed when small babies shown a succession of female faces, demonstrate increased brain activity only with their mother’s face.
In reverse, mothers can detect their own baby’s cry in a crowd of crying babies.
Small children become anxious when separated from their mothers. Attachment theory, based on maternal bonding, means a child acquires emotional security and learns self-regulation through loving relationships at home.
A child’s hormonal bonding system is compromised by disrupted attachments, since reduced synthesis of oxytocin receptors follows frequent maternal separations.
The possibility of forming strong bonds with a partner in adult life, as well as with future offspring, may be reduced.
Also, the mother-infant bonding pathway in the brain is closely associated with the reward and addiction circuits.
The stress of maternal separation can produce changes in the neural-circuit functions, which can appear as dependence or substance abuse in later life … Read more.