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Mothers may pass on jab fears to infants

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Children whose mothers are anxious about vaccinations are more likely to be scared themselves, according to UK research.

The preliminary study examined 50 mothers and their two-month-old babies during routine vaccinations.

The experts looked at the pain expression of babies before, during and after the injections.

Results indicated that babies with first-time mothers exhibited signs of significantly more pain before the needle insertion and during the vaccination than those with experienced mothers.

Researchers believe the heightened pain levels could be directly related to the mother’s anxiety about the procedure

Meanwhile, the mothers were also asked to estimate the pain felt by their baby during the procedure.

These findings, published in the Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, suggest that both new and experienced mothers overestimate their child’s pain.

Dr Nadja Reissland, from Durham University’s Department of Psychology, who led the research, explained that although most mums feel apprehensive about their baby’s first immunisations, it is particularly daunting for new mums.

“It is possible that first-time mothers get more stressed about taking their baby for their immunisations due to the unfamiliarity of the process, and how much pain they believe their babies are in could stop them from taking their babies for follow-up vaccinations,” she said.

“This could result in children having incomplete immunisations.”

With this in mind, Dr Reissland stressed how important it is for first-time mothers to be made to feel comfortable to reduce anxiety.

Dr David Elliman, an immunisation expert from the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said: “It’s extremely common for children to become nervous just before [clinicians] carry out these vaccinations.

“The mother’s behaviour during this time is very important in reducing the pain felt by their baby when being immunised - something this study emphasises.”


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