Crying it out may damage baby’s brain

crying-babyI found this article waaaay too important to provide everyone with just a link. You can find more information published in other resources at the end of the article. The original article is published in National Post (Canada).
Dr. Stephen Juan, National Post, Monday, October 30, 2006

CAN LEAVING MY BABY TO “CRY IT OUT” CAUSE BRAIN DAMAGE?

Research suggests that allowing a baby to “cry it out” can cause brain damage. Some experts warn that allowing a baby to “cry it out” causes extreme distress to the baby. And such extreme distress in a newborn has been found to block the full development of certain areas of the brain and causes the brain to produce extra amounts of cortisol, which can be harmful.

According to a University of Pittsburgh study by Dr. M. DeBellis and seven colleagues, published in Biological Psychiatry in 2004, children who suffer early trauma generally develop smaller brains.

A Harvard University study by Dr. M. Teicher and five colleagues, also published in Biological Psychiatry, claims that the brain areas affected by severe distress are the limbic system, the left hemisphere, and the corpus callosum. Additional areas that may be involved are the hippocampus and the orbitofrontal cortex.

The Science of Parenting by Dr. Margot Sunderland (Dorling Kindersley, 2006) points out some of the brain damaging effects that can occur if parents fail to properly nurture a baby — and that means not allowing them to “cry it out.” Dr. Sunderland, the director of education and training at the Centre for Child Mental Health in London, draws upon work in neuroscience to come to her conclusions and recommendations about parenting practice.

In the first parenting book to link parent behavior with infant brain development, Dr. Sunderland describes how the infant brain is still being “sculpted” after birth. Parents have a major role in this brain “sculpting” process.

Dr. Sunderland argues that it is crucial that parents meet the reasonable emotional needs of the infant. This is helped along by providing a continuously emotionally nurturant environment for the infant.

Allowing a baby to “cry it out” when they are upset will probably be regarded as child abuse by future generations.
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I was able find more information about this study: check out Science shows up Supernanny , by Amelia Hill, (The Observer, Sunday November 7, 2004), that further indicates that “there is a new theory that uses brain scans to argue that controlled crying not only damages babies’ brains but produces angry, anxious adults”. This article provides further suggestions on how to manage children’s crying. For other suggestions, check our Book Review Section.