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Child-Care Relationships Tied to Kids’ Stress Levels

by The Kid's Doctor Staff

Parents who bicker or poor caregivers can increase the level of stress in children according to two recently released studies.

The studies published in the November/December 2008 issue of Child Development show the biological effects stress has on children in these common situations. Long-term of frequent rises in the stress hormone cortisol can have negative health consequences.

The first study, done by Washington State University, Auburn University, Washington State Department of Early Learning, and Pennsylvania State University researchers, involved nearly 200 children in full-time daycare. It found that many preschoolers experience increasing levels of cortisol throughout the day, which is the opposite of how the hormone is produced in most humans.

A second study shows that higher cortisol levels were found in children distressed by their parents’ fighting. The study reported that children who became very upset when their parents fight are more likely to develop psychological problems. Researchers at the University of Rochester, the University of Minnesota and the University of Notre Dame conducted that study.

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