Negligence does more harm than physical abuse

Speaking about the effect of the relationship with babies on the baby's brain, Prof. Dr. William Mosier said that chronic exposure to the stress hormone in infancy will bring life-long physical and mental health problems. “Chronic negligence harms the developing human brain more than physical abuse,” says Prof. Mosier.

Negligence does more harm than physical abuse


Emphasizing that the effect of stress on the human brain has been documented for more than seventy-five years, Mosier said: “The human brain contains pre-programmed neural circuits for the development of a bonding relationship between the baby and at least one important adult in the first six months of life. This initial attachment (typically with a mother figure) prepares neurons to establish synaptic connections with other neurons. This process strengthens the formation of nerve clusters that increase brain development.”

Stating that when healthy social and emotional bonds are not formed, synapses are removed by a process called pruning, Mosier said: “When a baby's neglect is permanent, cortisol, the stress hormone, is released into the brain. Chronic exposure to stress hormone during infancy brings life-long physical and mental health problems. In addition, it creates a more sensitive brain by negatively affecting cognitive, language, social and emotional development. In fact, chronic neglect causes more damage to the developing human brain than physical abuse.”

Stating that early intervention can reduce the negative effects of chronic stress and neglect in infants, Prof. Dr. William Mosier, faculty member of Department of Child Development, Faculty of Health Sciences, Istanbul Gelisim University said: “Therefore, Child Development Specialists can support families by teaching parents the mutual interactions (service and return) between babies and adults that support brain development and foster healthy emotional attachment. This includes responding quickly and appropriately to the baby's responses such as crying, crying, chirping, making eye contact with the baby, hugging, reflecting the baby's expression on him, and giving him time to “respond”.


Emphasizing that eye contact and face perception in babies are essential for the development of social competence, Prof. Dr. Mosier said: “Newborns prefer a human face over any toy object. Babies prefer direct eye contact. Three-month-old babies prefer smiling faces to neutral expressions, and five to seven-month-old babies can distinguish between a smiling and a fearful facial expression. At five months of age, babies can understand and follow a gaze that is directed towards the direction of an object.”

Prof. Mosier concluded his speech as follows:

“Being aware that babies can perceive and understand social interaction at such an early age, Child Development Specialists can provide suggestions to families that support healthy brain development and teach them how to support babies' emotional and social development. It can be listed as making direct eye contact when interacting with a baby, smiling when eye contact is established with the baby, reflecting the baby's words during routine times such as changing diapers and feeding, smiling, making eye contact and playing, and being aware when the gaze diverts from the baby. Because the baby may perceive it negatively when they see that you are more interested in something other than interaction.”

Edited date: 01.03.2021
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