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An Infant Case Study-Sam



The scope of this article is to encourage discussion concerning the environmental factors that affect infant development. The complete article can be found at
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By Fredrick Norfleet
Monday, July 13, 2020
© FB. Norfleet Publishing
An Infant Case Study—Sam
Many environmental factors affect infant development—for example, infectious agents and toxins
(lead). Social factors are also considered environmental. Thus, caregiver interactions and socioeconomic
factors can affect infant development as well. These factors can specifically influence infant behavior.
According to the National Research Council, "behavioral influences include the child's emotions, beliefs,
attitudes, behaviors, and cognitive abilities that affect health outcomes." (Influences on Children's Health,
In the case study of the infant – Sam, one positive (decisive) environmental factor was presented,
which I believe should be further expounded, to create a best-case scenario for Sam's short-term
developmental outcomes. For example, a decisive environmental factor, upon Sam's birth, his mother Jane
requested 12 weeks of family leave. According to the Family and Medical Leave Act, "twelve workweeks of
leave in 12 months for the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth, (Family
and Medical Leave Act, 2020) covered for eligible employees. Taking off from work for twelve weeks will
allow her to have loving interactions as a caregiver with Sam, which is a positive (decisive) social,
environmental factor.
Within the first two years of Sam's life, his brain will experience significant growth and development.
According to the London Journal of Primary Care, "the brain development of infants (as well as their social,
emotional and cognitive development) depends on a loving bond or attachment relationship with a primary
caregiver, usually a parent" (Winston & Chicot, 2016, P. 1). Thus Jane, indeed, made the correct decision to
take advantage of the Family and Medical Leave Act to be there as Sam's primary caregiver. Love and
consistency are essential to Sam's survival, "there is increasing evidence from the fields of developmental
psychology, neurobiology, and animal epigenetic studies that neglect, parental inconsistency and a lack of
love can lead to long-term mental health problems as well as to reduce overall potential and happiness"
(Winston & Chicot, 2016, P. 1).
Infancy is a crucial time for Sam's brain development. An excellent initial bond between Jane and
Sam can lead to him becoming happy, independent, and resilient. Therefore to create a best-case scenario for
Sam's short-term developmental outcomes, I would suggest increasing Jane's leave from twelve weeks to
twenty-four weeks. The increase will ensure that Jane will be present, giving love to Sam as his brain will
experience significant growth and development.
Thanks to Epigenetics, there are also long-term benefits. Epigenetics is the study of changes in the
expression of genes that do not result from alterations in the sequence of the genetic code. In other words, the
scientist of the mind has discovered that environmental factors can alter genetic code, which can change
behavior. Epigenetics psychology suggests lullabies and smiles throughout the first two years of infant life
have long-term benefits. For example, lullabies and smiles inoculate infants against heartbreak, adolescent
angst (deep anxiety or dread), and help them pass exams later in life.
National Research Council (US); Institute of Medicine (US). Children's Health, The Nation's Wealth:
Assessing and Improving Child Health. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2004. 3,
Influences on Children's Health. Available from:
Family and Medical Leave Act. (n.d.). Retrieved March 22, 2020, from
Winston, R., & Chicot, R. (2016). The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and
resilience of children. London journal of primary care, 8(1), 12–14.
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