chapter  6
16 Pages

Illness Peaks During Infancy and Regression Periods

Early life experiences in humans and in animals have been shown to have both immediate and long-term effects on behavior and health plus the immune system (Schleifer et a1., 1986). The early interruption of mother-infant interaction has significant, specific biochemical and physiological consequences in mammalian species. This is consistent with clinical findings of impaired growth hormone secretion and tissue responsivity to growth hormone in nonorganic failure-to-thrive children, or children with maternal deprivation syndrome, reactive attachment disorder, or psychosocial dwarfism (Schanberg & Field, 1988). Many pediatricians serving disadvantaged clinic populations note a high incidence of respiratory and gastrointestinal infections, along with the general signs of retarded growth and development (Mattsson, 1986). Children with chronic psychosomatic illness are at risk for development of "inverted" attachment (Bowlby, 1973), and are likely as a group to show measurable growth hormone deficiency, and reduced slow-wave sleep, as are physically abused children (Moore, 1989). It is becoming evident that modulators of immune responses mayaiso be important in the regulation of slow-wave sleep (Karnovsky, 1986).