A little love a day can keep the doctor away!

Researchers at UKZN are showing how a little bit of love can reduce the long-term impact of maternal stress on toddlers. We report on how early-life stress enhances the paediatric disorder known as febrile seizures.

Febrile seizures are a neurological disorder affecting children during the paediatric age due to infections such as ear infections, measles, chicken pox and other immune activation infections. These infections raise the core body temperature and results in seizures normally observed in Epileptic patients.

In our lab we investigated using an animal model, whether exposure to early-life stress such as trauma or low socio-economic conditions, exposure to violence during pregnancy will promote the duration of febrile seizures and whether this exposure will result in anxiety-like behaviour.

The findings show that reduced oxytocin levels a “love hormone” due to stress increase febrile seizure progression and leave the offspring with anxiety in later life. While treatment with oxytocin reversed the latter. These findings suggest that a nurtured environment can prevent long lasting effects of stress.

 

Written by: Dr Lihle Qulu; DRILL Fellow;  Neuroscientist and lecturer in the Discipline of Human Physiology, School of Laboratory Medicine and Medical Sciences, UKZN.

Tweet her at: @rebeleeque

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