The calming effect of a maternal breast milk odor on the human newborn infant
Nishitani S, Miyamura T, Tagawa M, Sumi M, Takase R, Doi H, Moriuchi H, Shinohara K.
Neurosci Res. 2008 Nov 1. [Epub ahead of print]
We examined the effects of the odors from mother’s milk, other mother’s milk and formula milk on pain responses in newborns undergoing routine heelsticks.
Forty-eight healthy infants were assigned to four groups, an own mother’s breast milk odor group (Own MM), another mother’s breast milk odor group (Other MM), a formula milk odor group (Formula M) and a control group. To assess infant distress in response to the heelsticks, their crying, grimacing and motor activities were recorded during the experiment as behavioral indices of the pain response. After the heelstick, the behavioral indices of the Own MM group were lower than those of other groups. By contrast, the Other MM and Formula M groups showed no significant changes compared with the Control group. We also measured salivary cortisol concentration as a biochemical index in Control and Own MM infants before and after heelstick. After the heelstick, the level of salivary cortisol was significantly increased in Control infants, but not in Own MM infants. These results suggest that pain is relieved in human newborns when they are exposed to odors from their mother’s milk.