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Emotionally stable kids, teens got lots of love in the preschool years

By Kathleen Doheny, CBS News

Preschoolers given higher levels of emotional support from moms, dads or other caregivers tend to have better emotional health during their childhood and teen years, a new study suggests.

The researchers saw increased growth in a brain region known as the hippocampus in children who were highly supported at preschool age. The hippocampus is involved in emotion, learning and memory formation. Reductions in hippocampus volume have been linked with worse emotional health and unhealthy coping, the study authors said.

“Support during the preschool period seems critical to healthy brain development, and healthy brain development is important for healthy emotional functioning,” said study leader Dr. Joan Luby. She’s a professor of child psychiatry at Washington University in St. Louis.

The researchers reported that they didn’t see changes in the volume of the hippocampus based on parental support when the children reached school age.

Because of the study’s design, Luby said, it can’t prove cause and effect. And, she added, a child who has an unsupportive parent isn’t doomed to be emotionally unhealthy if they get the same nurturing and support from another caregiver, such as a grandparent. Read more …