The amount of close and comforting contact between infants and their caregivers can affect children at the molecular level, an effect detectable four years later, according to new research from the University of British Columbia and BC Children’s Hospital Research Institute.

The study showed that children who had been more distressed as infants and had received less physical contact, had a molecular profile in their cells that was underdeveloped for their age – pointing to the possibility that they were lagging biologically.

The research was led by Dr. Michael Kobor and Dr. Sarah Moore and appears in the December 2017 issue of Development and Psychopathology.

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