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Stressed Out Moms More Likely to Hold Babies on the Right

Findings could help recognize postpartum depression, study suggests

FRIDAY, Aug. 31 (HealthDay News) -- Mothers who are stressed show an increased tendency to cradle their infants on their right side, according to a report published online Aug. 22 in the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry.

Nadja Reissland, of the University of Durham in the United Kingdom, and colleagues examined the relationship between preferred cradling position and maternal depression and stress levels in 79 mothers and their infants (average age 7.2 months). Mothers were observed after being asked to briefly hold their infants. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale and the Parental Stress Index/Short Form were used to assess depression and parenting stress in the mothers.

Of mothers who were neither stressed nor depressed, 86 percent cradled their infants to the left, and 14 percent to the right. Mothers who were stressed had a reduced tendency towards left-sided cradling, with 32 percent cradling on the right. In contrast, women who were depressed only exhibited primarily left-sided cradling.

"The lack of a left-sided cradling bias might be due to stress rather than depression experienced by mothers. Furthermore, this study provides evidence that the state of maternal mental health might be indicated by the side on which they cradle their child preferentially," the authors conclude.

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