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Cambridge University Science Magazine
Early experience of handling can affect how babies react emotionally later on in life. Researchers from France and Tunisia tested the effect of single-sided rubbing at birth on the emotional state of newborn foals.

Twenty-eight newborn Arab foals were divided into three groups: one group received rubbing on the left side of their body by a human, one group received it on the right side and the remaining group was not handled at all. This rubbing was vigorous and was therefore thought to be stressful for the newborns. Once these foals were ten days old, the researchers then observed their willingness to be approached by a human.

It was found that the group that was not handled at all accepted human contact more readily than the other two groups. Interestingly, the group that were handled on the right side were more adverse to human contact than the ones that were handled on the left. These results suggest that the side we handle babies may have long term emotional impacts. This raises further questions concerning neonatal care in both humans and animals.

Written by Xia Chen