First-time mothers may be inadvertently passing on their fears of injections to their babies after a new study found that babies of first time mothers felt more pain during vaccination compared to babies of experienced mothers.
The study was led by Dr Nadja Reissland of Durham University who said that the babies may feel the anxiety of their mothers during vaccination even if the new mothers show outwardly that they are not worried. The study has been published in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology.
The researchers observed around 50 mothers holding their two-month old babies during two routine vaccinations. The researchers recorded the pain expression, maternal touch and behavior before, during and after the vaccinations to arrive at a pain score. The mothers were then asked to estimate the level of pain that their babies felt as they were vaccinated. The researchers found that babies of first time mothers showed more pain in anticipation of the first injection compared to those of experienced mothers.
"They are thinking of how their baby is going to be hurt - it doesn't show on their face or in their behavior but it's communicated to the child. With more experienced mothers, they feel less anxious and can cope better", Dr Reissland said.