Page last updated at 18:20 GMT, Wednesday, 1 February 2012

Adjournment debate

Last summer's riots could have been prevented if the perpetrators had been comforted by their parents when they screamed as babies, a Conservative MP has suggested.

On 31 January 2012, Andrea Leadsom urged ministers hoping to avoid repeats of the wide-scale disorder which swept England during four nights in August last year to encourage mothers and fathers to love their children.

Opening her adjournment debate she warned that ignoring crying infants risked increasing babies' stress levels, affecting the brain's chemical balances and storing up trouble for later life.

Mrs Leadsom said: "The baby that is left to scream and scream and scream is unable to control or regulate his or her own feelings... and he looks to an adult carer to soothe his feelings and get him back off to sleep and relaxed again.

"What happens when a baby is left to scream all the time, constantly, is that the stress hormone in that baby's body rises to a level where it actually causes harm to the baby's immune system."

She said those hoping to avert more violence and looting should persuade parents to dote on their youngsters.

Mrs Leadsom said love was key to preventing "this sort of appalling activity from becoming the norm".

She said if MPs were serious about "wanting to create a better society for our children and our children's children", they should focus on youngsters' early years.

Children's Minister Sarah Teather said the government was trying to help parents bond with youngsters during infancy and admitted research suggested the attention and love a baby received could affect its brain development.

Ms Teather added: "There's good correlative evidence from the beginning that you have somebody who lacks that warm bond that it can later result in very serious problems around behaviour."


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