Infants who react poorly to stress are more likely to develop insecure attachments with their mothers and suffer mental problems in early childhood, researchers say. The findings challenge the common scientific view that maternal behavior is the key determinant of the quality of bonding.
"The mother is off the hook _ at least in part," said Carroll Izard, a professor of psychology at the University of Delaware.
"There's something in the child's biological makeup that is responsible for what's going on," he told reporters at a major science conference here Friday.
Insecure mother-infant attachments are seen as leading to fussy or irritable children who cope poorly when confronted with slight changes in their environment, Izard said.
Weak bonding has been traced to problem behavior in children up to age 9, and most likely affects individuals throughout their lives, he said.