St. FX researchers delve farther into renowned baby study

Staff ~ The News
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ANTIGONISH– St. Francis Xavier University researchers are looking back into a project about babies’ first contact with mothers that grabbed national headlines a few years ago.


Now, the same researchers are hard at work to find out if those babies, now six to eight years old, received long-term social cognitive and communication benefits.

StFX Professor of Psychology, Dr. Ann Bigelow, says there are very few studies that look at the long-term effects.

“We will be looking at these children who participated in skin-to-skin contact research with their mothers,” said Dr. Bigelow. “It will be interesting to see if that close contact with the mother affected their social developments.”

The research between mothers and their infants was the first of its kind in Canada.

At the time, more than a hundred mothers and infants were followed until the babies were three months old.

The results showed that by engaging in skin-to-skin contact with their babies, mothers provided health benefits to themselves, to their babies, and to the developing mother-infant relationship.

“There were a number of collaborators from the fields of psychology, nursing, medicine, nutrition, and anthropology. Students were involved with almost every aspect of the project,” added Dr. Bigelow.

Three StFX researchers, in collaboration with Kids First Family Resource Program, recently received more than a quarter of a million dollars to follow up on the skin-to-skin research.

Dr. Bigelow, Human Nutrition Professor Dr. Doris Gillis, Psychology Professor Dr. Kim MacLean, and Michelle Ward, the Executive Director of Kids First, were awarded a $269,000 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Insight Grant.

A DVD called ‘Enhancing Baby’s First Relationship,’ was launched from the research. Dr. Bigelow says they hope to have evidence of long-term effects within the next two years.

Geographic location: Canada

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