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Newborn Stress Could Trigger Multiple Sclerosis Later in Life

Newborns who face stressors like maternal separation may be more susceptible to a compromised immune system. This could lead to infections in their adult lives and possible development of multiple sclerosis.

In an experiment using mice researchers found that extended maternal seperation, particularly during the first two weeks of life, changed the immune, endocrine and behavioral responses to acute "Theiler's virus." This virus works by attacking the nervous system and is accompanied by polio-like symptoms. When the virus remains in the central nervous system it advances into another stage similar to multiple sclerosis in humans.

These study results reinforced how much stressors could impact the immune system, especially during the early develomental stages of life. It also confirmed how stressors are linked to life-long health conditions. Additionally, past studies have shown that 80 percent of adults who contracted multiple sclerosis reported experiencing a traumatic life event two years prior to the onset of the disease.
Researchers find these results encouraging as it could shed some light upon possible preventative methods to counter the effects of newborn stress on disease predisposition. Treatment options offered by some researchers include antidepressants and the application of coping methods.

So researchers discover this exciting link between newborn stress and the immune system and their answer for treatment is antidepressants? This is unfortunate as there are always much safer and simpler alternatives to prescription medication. The best thing you could give to your newborn is human touch. As a matter of fact, skin-to-skin contact is probably one of the most important things you can give your baby right after birth. Not only does it provide your baby with a sense of security, but it also makes for critical bonding time with you and your baby.

Skin-to-skin contact has also been known to reduce infections and cut down on breastfeeding problems. Breastfeeding is vastly superior to formula and will provide your newborn with all the nutrients they need in order to grow into a strong and healthy child.

EurekAlert! September 30, 2004

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