Nils Bergman on Bonding

Dr Nils Bergman’s Research on maternal-neonate separation :

Nils Bergman presented an extremely interesting and valuable paper on research around the neurobiology of attachment, maternal-neonate separation, and his most recent publication with Barak Morgan and Alan Horn in ‘Biological Psychiatry’ entitled “Should Neonates Sleep Alone?” Find the PDF HERE

“To investigate the impact of MNS in humans, we measured HRV in 16 2-day-old full-term neonates sleeping in skin-to-skin contact with their mothers and sleeping alone, for 1 hour in each place, before discharge from hospital. Infant behaviour was observed continuously and manually recorded according to a validated scale. Cardiac interbeat intervals and continuous electrocardiogram were recorded using two independent devices. Heart rate variability (taken only from sleep states to control for level of arousal) was analysed in the frequency domain using a wavelet method.”

Results show a 176% increase in autonomic activity and an 86% decrease in quiet sleep duration during MNS compared with skin-to-skin contact.

The conclusion from this research is that maternal-neonate separation is associated with a dramatic increase in HRV power, possibly indicative of central anxious autonomic arousal. Maternal-neonate separation also had a profoundly negative impact on quiet sleep duration. “Maternal separation may be a stressor the human neonate is not well-evolved to cope with and may not be benign.” 

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