Friday, September 28, 2012

A Mom Gene?

Becca shared a link to Discovery of "Mom Gene" . . ., a very brief summary (more a mention) of a study at Rockefeller University suggesting (as mentioned in another article) that there actually is a gene that leads women to:
be responsible for motivating mothers to protect, feed and raise their young.
“The novelty of this study is that it shows that silencing this gene in one specific area of the brain abolishes many aspects of maternal behavior,” . . . 
. . . as early as the 1970’s, scientists discovered the preoptic area of the brain is involved in certain behaviors in mice including aggression, sexual receptivity and maternal care. 
In this study, researchers took it one step further, suppressing the gene by lowering the ER alpha levels found in the preoptic area to observe how female mice would behave with the lower levels.
They noticed mice with lower ER alpha levels spent less time licking, nurturing and caring for their young, but their levels of aggression didn’t change.
"Our studies certainly show that the type of receptor, or the total lack thereof, alters the ability to be a ‘good’ mother,” Ribeiro said.
The findings could help uncover genetic links to good parenting in humans as well.
Researchers also found decreasing the ER alpha levels significantly decreased sexual behavior in female mice as well. 
How interesting!  Now I don't feel so bad about my lack of natural motherliness.   I'm probably just a bit weak in the mom gene area!

This brings up so many questions.  Do men have the gene?  Is it more suppressed somehow?  If women who lack the gene are less interested in sex, do we assume they'll reproduce less; therefore, those who have the gene will reproduce more, thus being more likely to pass on the gene? If we naturally lack it, but have children anyway, are we increasing the odds that our children will be less nurturing?

This line stuck out to me in the first article, "But the bottom line is that some women know it's what they want from the start, others realize the wonders of it once it happens and for many others, it's just not part of their makeup. . . ." I'm glad that even if I did have a hard time taking the plunge into motherhood, that I did it because had I not, I would have never known the great joy that comes with being a mother.  

I'm curious to know how many women feel naturally nurturing or not.  Before kids, I thought I was the weird one to not be so baby hungry, but after talking to more women now, I don't think that's so uncommon.  The amazing thing is, many of these women who weren't so crazy about kids have ended up having 6, 7, 9, or 10!  They put off their more selfish desires and did what was asked of them and found they could handle it and even enjoy it.  What great examples to me.

More synopsis.