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Research has found that children and babies react as warmly to their mother's voice as to her hugs. American scientists claimed that children who talked to their mother on the telephone when they were experiencing anxiety were comforted becuase of the release of what they called a 'cuddle hormone'. This cuddle hormone produced the same effect as getting a warm cuddle from the mother.
The study was done by researchers at Winconsin University. Levels of the hormone oxytocin surged when children were cuddled and when they spoke to their monther's on the phone. Oxytocin helps mothers and their babies form emotional bonds.
Dr Leslie Seltzer, who was the leading scientist on the study, said that the children who actually interacted with their mothers had practically the same levels of the hormone as those who just had the phone call. It had previously been thought that the hormones were only released when physical contact took place, i.e. an actual hug rather than a phone call. However, these new results contradict this idea and suggest the mother's voice is good enough!
The test was done on 7-12 year olds and it found that after a grueling maths test (which made them all very stressed) the group who had spoken to their Mum on the phone was as calm as those who had received a hug from their Mum. They were all much calmer than those who went to watch a film and had not received cuddles or phone calls.
Of course, this could be relevant too for adults needing comforting! A call to a Mum (or a Granny if you have kids) could make you feel better than reaching for a tub of ice cream to try and cheer you up!