There’s nothing like that new baby smell. No parent will ever forget the sweet, subtle scent of the top of their baby’s head. When my son was young I would breathe it in for hours as he laid on my chest or napped, strapped to me in his carrier.
Scientists have caught on to the calming properties of that wonderful baby head scent. In fact, according to Swedish-language research magazine forskning.se, researchers in the Department of Clinical Neuroscience at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm are investigating whether or not that smell could one day be used to treat depression.
The team had 30 women smell little hats previously worn by newborn babies. As the women inhaled the scent the researchers studies their brains with a magnetic camera, Sciencenordic reports. Images were also gathered as the women experienced other smells.
The results were compelling: The smell of the baby hats seemed to affect the women’s brains similarly to drugs used to treat mental illness.
The researchers have now been given funding to try the experiment with men, but they’re pretty sure the results will be the same regardless of the sniffer’s gender.
The Swedish scientists don’t know exactly why our brains love that baby smell so much, and note that the body odor of newborns contains about 150 different chemicals, so they’re still trying to pin down which chemicals are causing the reaction.
The research is still years away, but the team hopes that a one day, a nasal spray capturing that sweet baby head smell may be developed and used to treat mental illnesses, including depression.