Mothers transfer fear to their babies through odors

A phenomenon that has long baffled researchers is how the traumatic experience of a mother can affect her child – even when the event occurs before the baby is born. Inching closer to an explanation, a team of investigators studied mother rats and discovered how they transferred their fears to their pups during their early days of life – through odors released during distress.

The team, from the University of Michigan (U-M) Medical School and New York University, published their results in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

They say their findings helped them identify the specific brain area where fear transmission settles during the early days of life, which could lead to a better insight as to why not all children of distressed mothers experience the same effects.

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