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      The Experience of Being Born: A Natural Context for Learning to Suckle

      1,*, 2,3,4

      International Journal of Pediatrics

      Hindawi Publishing Corporation

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          Abstract

          Understanding the developmental origins of congenital capabilities such as sucking is fundamental knowledge that can contribute to improving the clinical management of early feeding and facilitate the onset of oral ingestion. We describe analyses in rats showing that sensory stimulation in utero and during birth establishes the newborn's sucking responses to maternal cues. We mimicked elements of labor and delivery (viz., compressions simulating labor contractions, stroking simulating postnatal maternal licking of the newborn, and postnatal thermal flux), and used them to induce postnatal respiration and nipple attachment in caesarian-delivered pups. We report herein new data showing that, by simulating a fetal rat's experience of being born, specific components of vaginal birth provide sufficient conditions for the odor learning that guides newborn's sucking responses. In contrast, the absence of in utero compressions was associated with poor sucking onset. Knowing how birth stimuli contribute to the first nipple attachment and constitute a context for learning to suckle is an important step toward better management of some early feeding problems. It can serve also as a foundation for understanding the challenges of facilitating sucking by babies born prematurely so that they do not experience the typical contingencies mediating onset of oral ingestion.

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          Most cited references 62

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          Motor development: A new synthesis.

           Esther Thelen (1995)
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              Motor development. A new synthesis.

               E Thelen (1995)
              The study of the acquisition of motor skills, long moribund in developmental psychology, has seen a renaissance in the last decade. Inspired by contemporary work in movement science, perceptual psychology, neuroscience, and dynamic systems theory, multidisciplinary approaches are affording new insights into the processes by which infants and children learn to control their bodies. In particular, the new synthesis emphasizes the multicausal, fluid, contextual, and self-organizing nature of developmental change, the unity of perception, action, and cognition, and the role of exploration and selection in the emergence of new behavior. Studies are concerned less with how children perform and more with how the components cooperate to produce stability or engender change. Such process approaches make moot the traditional nature-nurture debates.
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                Author and article information

                Affiliations
                1Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405, USA
                2Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC 27157, USA
                3Department of Neurobiology & Anatomy, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC 27157, USA
                4Molecular Medicine and Translational Science, Wake Forest School of Medicine, Winston Salem, NC 27157, USA
                Author notes
                *Jeffrey R. Alberts: alberts@123456indiana.edu

                Academic Editor: Chantal Lau

                Journal
                Int J Pediatr
                Int J Pediatr
                IJPED
                International Journal of Pediatrics
                Hindawi Publishing Corporation
                1687-9740
                1687-9759
                2012
                26 September 2012
                : 2012
                3463930
                23056061
                10.1155/2012/129328
                Copyright © 2012 J. R. Alberts and A. E. Ronca.

                This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

                Categories
                Review Article

                Pediatrics

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