Stress-feeding: How does the cortisol in breast milk affect babies?


Mikala Kass

Anxious mothers may pass the stress hormone cortisol on to their babies through breast milk — but how does it affect infant development? Author Jena Pincott of the Nautilus explores various studies showing that increased stress hormones make some animals more resilient to stress, while others, such as primates, less so.

Katie Hinde, an associate professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change who researches mother’s milk, discussed her rhesus macaque study and the possible evolutionary benefits of cortisol in human milk.

“A stressed mom may have a lot on her mind, and being fussy may be one of the tactics a baby uses to get the attention he or she needs from mom and other caretakers,” Hinde said.

Read the full article to learn more.