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General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

Motherhood permanently alters the brain and its response to hormone therapy later in life

Motherhood permanently alters the brain and its response to hormone therapy later in life.

EstrogrenMenopause

From the 25 May 2015 EurkAlert

Hormone therapy (HT) is prescribed to alleviate some of the symptoms of menopause in women. Menopausal women are more likely to be diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease but not other forms of dementia, and HT has been prescribed to treat cognitive decline in post-menopausal women with variable degrees of effectiveness. New research by Dr. Liisa Galea, at the University of British Columbia, suggests the form of estrogens used in HT and previous motherhood could be critical to explain why HT has variable effects. Research in women, and Dr. Galea’s research in animals, shows that one form of estrogens, called estradiol, which is the predominant form of estrogens in young women, had beneficial effects, while estrone, which is the predominant form of estrogens in older women, did not. Furthermore, the effects of estrone also depended on whether the rats had experienced motherhood: estrone-based HT impaired learning in middle-aged rats that were mothers, while it improved learning in rats that were not. Dr. Galea’s latest results were presented at the 9th Annual Canadian Neuroscience Meeting, on May 25th 2015 in Vancouver British Columbia.

“Our most recent research shows that previous motherhood alters cognition and neuroplasticity in response to hormone therapy, demonstrating that motherhood permanently alters the brain” says Dr. Liisa Galea.

Read the entire news release here

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July 22, 2015 Posted by | Medical and Health Research News | , , , | Leave a comment

Research shows 50 years of motherhood manuals set standards too high for new moms

From the press release of the University of Warwick

New research at the University of Warwick into 50 years of motherhood manuals has revealed how despite their differences they have always issued advice as orders and set unattainably high standards for new mums and babies.

Angela Davis, from the Department of History at the University of Warwick, carried out 160 interviews with women of all ages and from all backgrounds to explore their experiences of motherhood for her new book, Modern Motherhood: Women and Family in England, 1945-2000.

She spoke to women about the advice given by six childcare ‘experts’ who had all published popular books on the best way to raise a baby. Ranging from the 1940s to 2000, the authors were Frederick Truby King, John Bowlby, Donald Winnicott, Benjamin Spock, Penelope Leach and Gina Ford.

Dr Davis found although the advice from these experts changed over the decades, the one thing that didn’t change was the way it was delivered. Whatever the message for mothers, it was given as an order with a threat of dire consequences if mother or child failed to behave as expected.

Dr Davis said: “Despite all the differences in advice advocated by these childcare ‘bibles’ over the years, it is interesting that they all have striking similarities in terms of how the experts presented their advice. Whatever the message, the advice was given in the form of an order and the authors highlighted extreme consequences if mothers did not follow the methods of childrearing that they advocated.

“Levels of behaviour these childcare manuals set for mothers and babies are often unattainably high, meaning women could be left feeling like failures when these targets were not achieved. Therefore while women could find supportive messages within childcare literature, some also found the advice more troubling.”

During her research Dr Davis often spoke to women who were different generations of the same family. She found when reflecting back upon the changes that they had seen from when they were babies, to when they had their own children, and then watching their children raise their own families, they were still unsure of what had really been the best approach.

Dr Davis said: “I was struck by the cyclical nature of these childcare bibles, we start out with quite strict rules laid down by Frederick Truby King, whose influence is very much evident in the 1940s and following decades. The principal thread running through his books are that babies need strict routines. We then find the advice becomes less authoritarian and regimented as we go through the decades and the influences of Bowlby, Winnicott, Spock and Leach.

“However, when we reach the 1990s when Gina Ford came to prominence, we come back to the strict regimented approach of Frederick Truby King several decades earlier. More than 50 years on and experts still cannot agree on the best way to approach motherhood, and all this conflicting advice just leaves women feeling confused and disillusioned.”

 

March 14, 2012 Posted by | Psychology | , , | Leave a comment

   

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