LONDON Children pushed in prams which face away from their parents may suffer long-term emotional and language problems, according to a study published on Friday.
The research, believed to be the first of its kind, found that children who were not facing the person that pushed them were less likely to talk, laugh and interact with their parents compared with those babies that did.
The findings were based on a study of 2,722 parents and babies and an experiment where 20 babies were wheeled in prams for a mile, facing their parents for half the journey and facing away for the other half.
Parents using face-to-face prams were twice as likely to talk to their children while the heart rates of the babies fell and they were twice as likely to fall asleep, an indicator that they were feeling relaxed and safe.
Additionally only one baby out of the 20 studied laughed while sitting in an away-facing pram.
"Our data suggests that for many babies today, life in a buggy is emotionally impoverished and possibly stressful," said Dr Suzanne Zeedyk, Developmental Psychologist at Scotland's Dundee University who carried out the research.
"Stressed babies grow into anxious adults."
The study, which was published by National Literacy Trust as part of its Talk To Your Baby campaign, found that 62 percent of all children observed travelled in away-facing prams, rising to 86 percent between the ages of 1 and 2.
Zeedyk said it would impact negatively on babies' development if they spent a long time in a pram which undermined their ability to communicate with their parent at a time when their brain was developing rapidly.
Laura Barbour of the Sutton Trust, a social mobility charity which funded the research, said pram manufacturers should look closely at the findings.
(Reporting by Michael Holden, Editing by Astrid Zweynert)