Moms who give their babies lots of love and affection have children that are less stressed or anxious as adults, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing a study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health.
To date, most studies of the connection between maternal affection and later health have looked backward, asking adults to rate familial warmth from childhood memories.
But the latest U.S. study's 482 participants didn't need to rely on memory, because when they were eight-month-old infants in the 1960s, psychologists rated their mothers' level of affection.
The vast majority of the participants' mothers, about 85 percent, displayed normal levels of affection, and 10 percent showed low affection.
The researchers reconnected in the late 1990s with the participants, who were then 34 years old, on average.
As part of the interview, the researchers evaluated their psychological health using a common questionnaire.
The five percent of the participants who had highly affectionate mothers reported being about 14 percent less anxious and nine percent less generally distressed than their peers.