Welch Emotional Connection Screen (WECS), a brief measure of mother/infant relational health, validated in new study

A recent report published in Acta Paediatrica validates the behavioral construct of Emotional Connection and correlates the construct with autonomic state physiology.

About the Family Nurture Intervention

The Nurture Science Program is conducting randomized clinical trials to test the effectiveness of Family Nurture Intervention in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Exciting results from the first trial show significant benefits for both babies and mothers.

About the Nurture Science Program

The Nurture Science Program studies a way to establish reciprocal relationships between parents and children. We believe that parents can be helped to create and sustain optimal nurturing interactions and family connectedness that can prevent and even overcome emotional, behavioral and developmental problems.

Calming Cycle Theory

Calming cycle theory proposes that early emotional behavior is shaped by subcortical visceral/autonomic co-conditioning between mother and infant. Two new constructs, emotional connection, and visceral/autonomic co-regulation are defined within a functional Pavlovian conditioning framework and are theorized to be part of an evolutionarily conserved mammalian phenomenon first identified by Pavlov.

For Clinicians

The Nurture Science Program at Columbia University is currently testing the effectiveness of the Family Nurture Intervention through randomized clinical trials in preterm, late-preterm and full-term infants. We hope to promote the dramatic benefits of the Family Nurture Intervention in neonatal intensive care units around the country.

For Researchers

The Family Nurture Intervention can increase infant brain activity by 36% when the infants reach full term age. These increases correlate with better neurodevelopment later in life. Other important measures that improve with the intervention include heart rate, heart rate variability, respiration rate, cortisol levels, maternal caregiving behavior and maternal depression.

For Families

The Family Nurture Intervention (FNI) fosters emotional connectedness between parents and children that is crucial to physical and emotional development as well as to forming healthy relationships. FNI has shown positive results in the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), where early physical separation between the mother and infant can interrupt the biochemical, physiological and emotional processes critical to normal development.

The Nurture Science Program defines nurture as interactions that underlie emotional connection. These interactions include olfactory exchange, vocal soothing, comforting touch, eye contact, holding, and cuddling.

Latest Research and News

Colostrum Oxytocin Modulates Cellular Stress Response, Inflammation, and Autophagy Markers in Newborn Rat Gut Villi

The presence of the neuropeptide oxytocin (OT) in milk and its role in milk letdown are well known. Less known is the role of OT delivered in mothers' milk on newborn gut development.

Advances in family based-interventions in the neonatal ICU

Recent trials reviewed here find positive effects of a variety of family-related interventions focused on parental guidance. These interventions target prescribed physical activities with infants, parents’ stress, and the parents’ ability to recognize their positive and negative behaviors with their infants. Beneficial effects include reductions in parenting stress, maternal anxiety, and depression.

Advances in family based-interventions in the neonatal ICU

Recent trials reviewed here find positive effects of a variety of family-related interventions focused on parental guidance. These interventions target prescribed physical activities with infants, parents’ stress, and the parents’ ability to recognize their positive and negative behaviors with their infants. Beneficial effects include reductions in parenting stress, maternal anxiety, and depression.