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Newborn crawling and rooting in response to maternal breast odor

Abstract : A growing literature shows that perception and action are already tightly coupled in the newborn. The current study aimed to examine the nature of the coupling between olfactory stimuli from the mother and the newborn's crawling and rooting (exploratory movements of the head). To examine the coupling, the crawling and rooting behavior of 28 2-day-old newborns were studied while they were supported prone on a mobility device shaped like a mini skateboard, the Crawliskate®, their head positioned directly on top of a pad infused with either their mother's breast odor (Maternal) or the odor of water (Control). Video and 3D kinematic analyses of the number and types of limb movements and quantification of displacement across the surface revealed that newborns are significantly more efficient crawlers when they smell the maternal odor, moving greater distances although performing fewer locomotor movements. In addition, the newborns made significantly more head rooting movements in the presence of the maternal odor. These findings suggest that the circuitry underlying quadrupedal locomotion and exploratory movements of the head is already adaptable to olfactory information via higher brain processing. Moreover, the coupling between olfaction and the two action systems, locomotion and rooting, is already differentiated. As crawling enables the newborn to move toward the mother's breast immediately after birth and facilitates mother-infant interaction, the results of this study highlight the potential value of using maternal odors to stimulate mobility in infants at risk of motor delay and/or deprived of this odor when born prematurely.
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Contributor : Sabine Julien <>
Submitted on : Friday, December 4, 2020 - 12:34:38 PM
Last modification on : Friday, February 5, 2021 - 3:32:39 AM

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Charlotte Hym, Vincent Forma, David Anderson, Joelle Provasi, Lionel Granjon, et al.. Newborn crawling and rooting in response to maternal breast odor. Developmental Science, Wiley, In press, pp.e13061. ⟨10.1111/desc.13061⟩. ⟨hal-03040400⟩



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