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Link found between infant scent and parenting skills

Author James Dunsford
Submitted 05-09-2008

Any father who has found himself working 24-hour days after his pregnant wife gives birth may wonder where that extra energy comes from.

Now, findings from the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center suggest that the scent of their own child may help new dads devote their parenting skills to helping mom care for the baby.

Research carried out on male marmosets discovered that after being exposed to the smell of their baby, fathers’ level of testosterone declined.

Previous studies on human had also identified a link between lower testosterone levels and biological fatherhood.

Toni Ziegler, senior author of the new research, suggested that fluctuating hormone levels may help a dad adjust to his new role, in which "there is a lot going on."

"These moderations may allow him to be more tolerant toward his infants while facing external challenges that might distract him from focusing on his infant and family needs," he explained.

So what parenting advice can the average dad take from these findings? Perhaps that amid the challenges of fatherhood, nature – and their own body – is supporting them along the way.