Missing the 'Love Hormone'? You May Be at Risk for Addiction

It sounds like it should be a song.  "Love Hormone Number 9."  But no, it's not music by the Clovers (the Clovers?) but an actual part of our body that may go missing when we're kids that can cause us to become addicts.

Sounds a little too out-there for me but studies have found, "Addictive behavior such as drug and alcohol abuse could be associated with poor development of the so-called "'ove hormone' system in our bodies during early childhood.

The discovery came from research into oxytocin, known as the "love hormone" or "bonding drug" because of its important role in enhancing social interactions, maternal behavior and partnership, the Web site reports.

"We know that newborn babies already have levels of oxytocin in their bodies, and this helps to create the all-important bond between a mother and her child," newswise quotes Dr Femke Buisman-Pijlmanfrom the University of Adelaide's School of Medical Sciences, who edited the study. "But our oxytocin systems aren't fully developed when we're born – they don't finish developing until the age of three, which means our systems are potentially subject to a range of influences both external and internal," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.

She adds that the oxytocin system develops mainly based on experiences.  "The main factors that affect our oxytocin systems are genetics, gender and environment. You can't change the genes you're born with, but environmental factors play a substantial role in the development of the oxytocin system until our systems are fully developed," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says at newswise.com.

Studies show that some risk factors for drug addiction already exist at an alarmingly early age -- four years old. "And because the hardware of the oxytocin system finishes developing in our bodies at around age three, this could be a critical window to study," she notes. "Oxytocin can reduce the pleasure of drugs and feeling of stress, but only if the system develops well."
Her theory is that adversity in early life is key to the impaired development of the oxytocin system. "This adversity could take the form of a difficult birth, disturbed bonding or abuse, deprivation, or severe infection, to name just a few factors," Dr Buisman-Pijlman says.
So parents, love your children. Form bonds early.  And do everything you can to make sure your child isn't missing the "love hormone."


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