The 'Cortisol Studies' - Stress Hormones in Day-Care
Q. What are
these studies that show that day-care stresses young children out? What does
that suggest to parents who would like to use day care services?
true: studies have definitely shown that for most toddlers, the stress hormone
cortisol remains at high levels when they are in structured, out-of-home
settings such as organized day-care centers and preschools.
contrast, cortisol levels for the same children drop when they are at home, and
cortisol levels of children who do not go to preschool or day care remain low
all the time.
findings were collected by gathering children's saliva in samples morning,
afternoon and evening, both in day-care settings and at home, and have been
is this a problem? Because cortisol levels that are too high can interfere with
a child's digestive system, slow his or her growth, reduce his or her natural
immunities - making the child more prone to get sick - and perhaps even damage
the child's memory skills and attention capacity.
is clear: life in groups of children in out-of-home settings, rather than in
the home, can be very stressful for young children, especially those who might
be considered "shy."
good news is that the cortisol levels don't stay as high among older preschool
children, suggesting that as they grow, children learn to adjust to stress. But
it can't be determined if there are lifelong or even long-term ramifications.
development experts say that parents should feel comfortable and good about
their preschool or day-care setting, or don't take their child there. They also
suggested in-home care or small-group home day-care settings for children who
are shy or have existing health challenges that would be difficult to contain
in a stressful setting.
more about the studies, see www.profam.org/pub/nr/nr_1710.htm