In the early 1940s, the rate of infant mortality was very high. Abroad it was even higher. In 1944 a study was done in the United States to determine the effectiveness of touch vs just nutrition. Forty babies were divided in two groups. Those who got all their physical needs met but no affection and those who were cared for by caregivers who were allowed to play and speak to the babies. The study was stopped after 4 months, because half of the babies in the basic needs group had died.
In 1952, Dr Rene Spitz studied a group of infants raised in an orphanage/hospital environment vs those raised by women prisoners in their cells. The institutional group had a 37% death rate, but none of the babies raised in prisons died.
In 2007, studies were published from a Romanian researcher about the effects of early institutionalization. Human kindness was not withheld in this study, they were just looking at the effects of life in a institution vs that of early life in a home environment. 52% of those who spent their early lives in institutions developed mental health issues compared to 22% in those who experienced a foster environment but not institutionalization.
The need of human affection and touch greatly changed the behaviors and rules of childbirth and visitation in our country over the years. In the 1950s, moms were sent home when children had medical issues and were allowed only limited contact with children in intensive care or after birth. Things like fathers and partners allowed in the birth rooms and less visiting restrictions after birth today have changed because human contact and love goes a long way to promote life and survival.
We don’t just want touch. We actually do physically need it for development. Not just babies. Adults do too. Please give someone in need the benefit of your eye contact, and your touch today. It will help you as much as it will help them. There’s no crime in asking for a hug. I love when my patients ask for a hug. It’s a gift for the receiver too. I am with you. You are not alone. I’m sending you my hug right now. I like to hold on really snugly and give a nice sustained squeeze around your shoulders, giving you a nice loving stretch and all my body heat. I hope you can feel me. I’m here.