Epigenetics of hugging – how your arms change your baby

A baby is born. After a long waiting time, you can finally take your child into your arms. This is a very strong experience. I hardly remember that moment when a nice nurse called me to see my daughter. I was barely conscious after nervous waiting. But the moment when I saw her for the first time and took her gently in my arms was different. I remember it very well. Something changed in me then. It was as if a bored operator was sitting in my head and pulled the switch. I became a father, a dad. It was really powerful, life changing. But it’s mainly a matter of hormones.

And what if I told you that your touch, your embrace and tenderness towards a child changes it more than you think? That this can change baby’s DNA? You can not change the genetic information (not counting mutations and crazy experiments) but you can change the way your body reads DNA. This is called epigenetics. This is why monozygotic twins become less and less identical over time, despite the same genetic information. Our diet, activity, lifestyle can modify DNA. Some genes are silenced and others are activated.

We all know how important physical contact is for a newborn and an infant. But the Canadian research group proved for the first time that close contact with a child has a direct impact on his DNA (Link). This means that contact with your baby is not just a matter of hormones or the formation of nervous connections. It’s something even deeper, which probably conditions entire future life of the child.

So, take your child in your arms and change yourselves for the better.

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