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Child Dev. 1985 Dec;56(6):1593-8.

Recognition of maternal axillary odors by infants.


A series of 5 experiments was conducted to determine whether neonates, at approximately 2 weeks of age, can recognize their parents through axillary odors alone. Breast-feeding infants discriminated between their mother's axillary odor and odors produced by either nonparturient or unfamiliar lactating females. In contrast, breast-feeding infants displayed no evidence of recognizing the axillary odors of their father. Likewise, bottle-feeding infants appeared unable to recognize the odor of their mother when presented along with odors from a nonparturient female or an unfamiliar bottle-feeding female. Several hypotheses were presented in an attempt to account for the differential reactions to maternal odors by breast-feeding versus bottle-feeding infants. It was tentatively concluded that, while breast-feeding, infants are exposed to salient maternal odors and thereby rapidly become familiarized with their mother's unique olfactory signature.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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