Scientists find clue to ‘maternal instinct’

Posted on August 5, 2019

Oxytocin is referred to as the love hormone and is associated with social and maternal behaviour. The oxytocin system in the brain may be key to new treatments for mental health problems. The oxytocin system in the brain has received tremendous attention as key to new treatments for many mental disorders, like anxiety, autism spectrum disorder and postpartum depression.

Researchers have attempted to investigate the difference between the oxytocin system in females versus males, but no one has successfully found conclusive evidence till now. The oxytocin receptor cells are in the brain area in charge of the regulation of maternal behaviour – these oxytocin receptors are only present when estrogen is also present. This imply that these cells are involved in inducing maternal behaviours. This confirms that there is indeed a connection between an altered expression of oxytocin receptors and postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression contributes to poor maternal health and has negative effects on a child's development. Studies have found that children of depressed mothers are at risk for a wide range of cognitive, emotional, behavioral and medical problems. Therefore, postpartum depression is a major public health concern that has significant adverse effects on both mother and child. About 10 to 20 percent of women experience postpartum depression after childbirth.

This discovery has successfully opened doors to potential new treatments and drugs for postpartum depression targeting oxytocin receptors cells.

Source material from Science Daily

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