We don't need to science to tell us that people can go gaga over a baby's scent. Why do you think people can't resist kissing them? It makes you want to pinch those chubby cheeks, burrow your face on their neck, even the back of the legs!
Of course, as parents, we should NOT be afraid to stop guests and strangers from kissing our kids. (Why? Read here.) But there might be a reason why we can't resist a baby's scent — recent research shows it has healing and calming properties, reports Motherly.
Researchers from the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm have caught a whiff of the feel-good properties of babies' smell, and findings show its potential to make people happier and more harmonious, so much so that they're looking at how it can contribute to improved mental health.
Researchers had 30 women smell hats carried by newborns with their brain's responses monitored via a magnetic camera. They were also made to smell other items. Comparing the brain images when inhaling different odors, the study showed that the scent of a baby's head has unique chemicals that have a positive effect on the brain's reward system, Sciencenordic reports.
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"A baby's body odor contains in total 150 chemicals, and we have not yet identified which ones produce these effects. We have found some indications and patterns, but it is complex. So we are far from testing it on people," says Johan Lundström, a research scientist at the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institute.
While the study is small and is in its earliest years, Swedish scientists believe their premise has great promise. They hope to develop a nasal spray, made out of the chemicals from a baby's smell, which could someday help treat depression.
Lundström explained to Swedish website Forskning.se that when it comes to drugs, ingested medicines for mental illnesses or that target the brain must pass the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain. "Therefore, it requires quite high doses, which can cause many side effects," he said. "[Drugs that pass through] the nasal passages, however, go straight into the brain."
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The scientist has now received funding to do the same experiment but with men as their subjects, and Lundström believes the results would be the same regardless of gender. If this study proves to be fruitful in the long run, it could present alternatives to ingested medicines that pose serious side effects, especially those that involve children.
For now, parents can take advantage of having the unique position of having access to that baby's smell anytime, every day. When you feel a little tired or overwhelmed, just inhale your little one's scent. When parents have said before that at the end of the day, coming home to their baby is "nakakatanggal ng stress," the study gives it a whole new meaning.