The importance of affection in health has been demonstrated by studies such as Harvard, but never as radically as was the case of Rene Spitz's research in the 50s of the 20th century.
Since before Spitz it had been noticed that the orphanages had a very high death rate, and at the beginning of the 20th century it was believed that the cause must be contagious diseases due to the lack of cleanliness of these places. It was then that the Austrian doctor René Spitz proposed an alternate theory, which perhaps would seem unscientific: the infants suffered from lack of love. To prove this, Spitz compared a group of infants who were raised in isolated hospital cribs with infants raised by mothers in prison. If the problem was the pathogens of the place, then children raised in prison should have worse results. The study showed that 37% of infants raised without a mother in a hospital died, while no deaths were recorded among incarcerated babies with their mothers. In turn, babies in jail grew faster and showed better results in various health tests. The investigation continued a few more years, and Spitz noted that the orphans who survived had a much more marked tendency to get diseases and have psychological problems.
Spitz's work was discredited by science. It was simply argued that the genes of parents who abandon their children must be deficient in comparison, and other ideas like that. However, science proved Spitz right: in 2007, a controlled study in Romania compared the growth of babies in orphanages and babies who grew up in homes with adoptive parents. This research only considered infants without genetic defects. In this case, the study proved that orphanage children grow less, have a lower IQ and 52% develop a mental illness, while only 22% of children with adoptive parents do so. The researchers explain these figures by suggesting that this 22% could be due to the fact that these children with adoptive parents spend time in orphanages before being adopted.
Dr. Bruce Perry says it very simply: "The basic problem of raising an infant in an orphanage is that the opportunity to establish a romantic relationship with a small group of adults is rare." Babies are not made to learn to connect with people when they are exposed to dozens of them for short periods. The reality is that orphanages are not healthy places for babies to grow and this information should be taken into account, so that in cases where there is no other option, an attempt is made to assign a responsible adult to be something like a temporary mother to the baby, focusing time and treatment and trying to lavish physical and emotional affection. It is certainly difficult to find many people to do this, but it must be said that those who can fill this void are truly heroic.