Baby wearing doesn't just keep our babies warm, snug, and loved.
The team from the University of British Columbia in Canada
But it could give scientists some useful insights into how touching affects the
During the study, parents of 94 babies were asked to keep diaries of their touching and cuddling habits
Four-and-a-half years later, DNA swabs were taken of the kids to
The researchers found DNA methylation differences between "high-
DNA methylation also acts as a marker for normal biological development and the processes that go along with it, and it can be influenced by external, environmental factors as well.
Then there was the
"In children, we think slower
In fact, similar findings were spotted in a study from 2013 looking at how much care and attention young rats were given from a very early age.
We are also talking about less than 100 babies in the study, but it does seem that close contact and cuddles do somehow change the body at a genetic level.
It will be the job of further studies to work out why, and to investigate whether any long-term changes in health might appear as a consequence.
"We plan to follow up on whether the 'biological immaturity' we saw in these children carries broad implications for their health, especially their psychological development," says one of the researchers, Sarah Moore.
"If further research confirms this initial finding, it will underscore the importance of providing physical contact, especially for distressed infants."
The research has been published in Development and Psychopathology.