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Child Dev. 1980 Sep;51(3):775-9.

Mother-infant "bonding": failure to generalize.


Animal studies on the biological basis of mother-to-infant attachment have led to the hyphothesis that human mother-infant contact shortly after delivery may be crucial for the facilitation of such attachment. However, existing data do not clearly substantiate the influence of early contact on human maternal behavior. The present study was designed with procedural and methodological controls which were not always adequate in earlier studies and tested the hypothesis that early and enhanced contact facilitates maternal attachment behavior. 15 healthy primiparous mothers had their infants 1 hour at delivery and 90 min at each feeding; 15 received the usual hospital routine--brief contact at delivery and 30 min at each feeding. No differences in maternal behavior were obtained on 28 discrete response measures or on pooled sets of individual measures. A modest sex effect between contact conditions was found. Maternal behavior did not differ as a function of age. Factors that may account for differences obtained between this and other studies are discussed.

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