Maternal Study Finds Small Divide Between Adults, Teens

Younger moms focus more on basic needs with babies, study finds

FRIDAY, Jan. 21, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Adult mothers lavish more affection on their babies than teen moms, who are more likely to focus on instrumental behavior such as tending to their infants' clothes or soothers, says a University of Toronto-led study of maternal behavior.

"While the study is still preliminary, this finding was very surprising," study author Katherine Krpan, currently a doctoral student in psychology, said in a prepared statement.

"We expected to see teen mothers exhibit more inappropriate behaviors towards their babies such as poking and prodding, which has been shown by previous research. Instead, they were behaving appropriately but displayed more instrumental behavior and less affection compared to the adult moms," Krpan said.

She and her colleagues studied 119 mothers in three age groups (15 to 18, 19 to 25, and 26 to 40 years old) who'd all given birth within a three-month span. The mothers were videotaped for 20 minutes as they interacted with their infants in their homes. The mothers also answered questions about their current mood and childhood experiences.

The researchers also said that mothers who had received consistent care as children were more likely to behave affectionately towards their babies than mothers who had varying caregivers when they were children.

The study appears in the January issue of Hormones and Behavior.

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SOURCE: University of Toronto, news release, Jan. 17, 2005
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