At school or home, they can raise long-term health risks, studies say
WEDNESDAY, Nov. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Bickering parents and poor caregiver relationships each increase levels of the stress hormone cortisol in children, new studies say.
The two studies, published in the November/December issue of Child Development, show the biological effects stress has on children in these common situations.
Long-term or frequent rises in cortisol can have negative health consequences. Research with animals and people suggest that secure relationships help prevent cortisol rises in children confronted with stress.
The first study, which looked at 191 full-time day-care children, found that many preschoolers experience increasing levels of cortisol throughout the day, the opposite of how the hormone is produced in most humans.
Children in classrooms with around 10 children were more likely to experience normal cortisol decreases from morning to afternoon; however, those in classes with closer to 20 children tended to have greater increases in cortisol across the day.
The study, by Washington State University, Auburn University, Washington State Department of Early Learning, and Pennsylvania State University researchers, also found that children with more clingy relationships with their teachers also had greater cortisol increases throughout the day. Those with poorer relationships with their caregivers also experienced a hormone boost after one-on-one interactions with the caregiver.
"This study sheds additional light on an as yet incompletely understood phenomenon among many young children attending full-day child care," study author Jared A. Lisonbee, an assistant professor of human development at Washington State University, said in a news release from the journal's publisher. "Additionally, the study begins to situate child care-cortisol research in the context of a broader literatu
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