Thursday, November 24, 2005

Neurological Evidence For Problems with Day Care

This New Scientist article entitled "How the food you eat could change your genes for life", Nov 19th, 2005, doesn't sound as if it should be the nail in the coffin for day care, but somewhere in the article they make the following point:

"... last year, Moshe Szyf, Michael Meaney and colleagues at McGill University in Montreal, Canada, showed that mothers could influence the way a rat's genes are expressed after it has been born. If a rat is not licked, groomed and nursed enough by its mother, chemical tags known as methyl groups are added to the DNA of a particular gene.

"The affected gene codes for the glucocorticoid receptor gene, expressed in the hippocampus of the brain. The gene helps mediate the animal's response to stress, and in poorly raised rats, the methylation damped down the gene's activity. Such pups produced higher levels of stress hormones and were less confident exploring new environments. The effect lasted for life (Nature Neuroscience, vol 7, p 847)."


Ouch, ouch, ouch...from the mother who deeply regrets handing first child over to day care (which can never be as responsive as a good parent), and sees forever the effects.

The rest of the article on the effect of food supplements on genes and behaviour makes good reading.

4 comments:

Leo said...

This could be used as fuel for the health food fascists.

Ron R said...

Doesn't it also have something to say about the nature versus nurture debate?

Carlotta said...

Leonor...yes, I'm sure you're right, and it would be quite ridiculous, not least since the article itself points to ways in which simple lessons from the experiments cannot be drawn...eg: the influence of other factors such as the author's reporting of the fact that the way others treat you is very significant in neurological formation, would suggest that simply restricting someone else's diet against their will is as likely to be damaging as beneficial.

Carlotta said...

re nature/nurture...yes, does look to confirm the idea that each effects the other in an on-going fashion.