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Scientists reveal truth behind breastfeeding

New Delhi, Sat, 19 Jul 2008 NI Wire

What is quite prevalent as universal truth among the whole society is for the first time been established scientifically by the researchers from the University of Warwick, in collaboration with other universities and institutes in Edinburgh, France and Italy.

The mystery of mother-child bond initiating and nurturing through breastfeeding has been unwrapped in a chain of events eventually culminated into the result, which suggests: releasing of 'oxytocine' hormone in the mothers' brain is the sole cause of emotional bond that mother and child shares.

Oxytocine is a trust hormone that not only surges love among humans, but also enhances in animals. Oxytocine has long been known to cause milk to be let down from the mammary glands. But the mechanism in the brain causing emotional bond between mother and child was unknown yet.

When oxytocin is released within the brain, it also helps in strengthening the bond between the mother and the child, but to have these effects, a very large amount must be released abruptly to cause a wave of the hormone that can spread through the brain.

These are neurons which are specialised in secreting oxytocine, but to produce such a flow, very large amount of oxytocine is needed. But, the scientists have now found that suckling is not only the way to secrete oxytocine. It also works towards recruiting dendrites into secreting the hormone.

The chief function of the dendrites is to create a network to communicate channels between various brain cells, which eventually culminate in releasing a flood of hormone at regular intervals of five minutes.

So far, dendrites are known for receiving rather than transmitting information. However, it does not mean that when a child is not suckling, the affection between mother and child disappears; it works, in fact, even when a child is not suckling, as these neurons are continually producing oxytocin but in small amounts.

The study was published in the journal PLoS Computational Biology.

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