Science says the smell of a newborn actually does make you happy
It seems we have been right all along, newborn baby smell really is the best.
According to a new study, smelling a newborn baby creates a similar response to taking drugs in mums – and it can even make us happier.
Scientists at the University of Montreal found that a newborn baby’s scent lights up reward centres in our brain in a way other odours can’t.
For mums especially, the smell is like a rush of dopamine to the brain.
The reaction is so strong that it exists even if the baby isn’t in front of you, because mothers and babies have such a connection.
‘What we’ve shown for the first time is the odour of newborns – which is part of these signals – activates the neurological reward circuit in mothers,’ said lead researcher Dr Johannes Frasnelli.
‘These circuits may especially be activated when you eat while being very hungry, but also in a craving addict receiving his drug. It is, in fact, the sating of desire.’
Dr Frasnelli is a professor of psychology at the university and worked with colleagues in Sweden and Germany on the research, which looked at how odour affects our brains.
To test the scent of newborn babies, pyjamas the babies had lived in for about a day or two were frozen to capture the odour. Then, 30 women – half of which were parents and half weren’t – were put to the test.
Under an fMRI scanner, the women were given shots of air, newborn baby scent, and a third scent.
They were asked to describe the smells while researchers studied the reaction of their brains.
Baby odour was mostly described as ‘slightly pleasant’ by the women. However, the brain scans revealed that the limbic system of the participants brains lit up.
For new mums, the reward centre responded so strongly there was a marked statistical difference compared to the women who did not have kids.
According to Frasnelli, this reaction shows the effect a baby has on our brain’s reward centre and explains why parenthood makes new mums so happy.
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