Stress in Small Kids Separated from Their Parents may Alter Genes

by Iswarya on  February 15, 2020 at 10:48 AM Mental Health News
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Increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in young kids who are separated from parents, particularly mothers, could have a long term genetic impact on future generations, reveals a new study. The findings of the study are published in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine.
Stress in Small Kids Separated from Their Parents may Alter Genes
Stress in Small Kids Separated from Their Parents may Alter Genes

In a commentary, the authors say that several studies show that small children cared for outside the home, especially in poor quality care and for 30 or more hours per week, have higher levels of cortisol than children at home.

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The authors of the study say that raised cortisol levels are a sign of stress and that the time children spend with their parents is biologically more important than is often realized.

Stress has been associated with children, particularly boys, acting aggressively. Not all children are affected, but an important minority is. Raised cortisol levels are associated with reduced antibody levels and changes in those parts of the brain which are associated with emotional stability.

"Environmental factors interact with genes so that genes can be altered, and once altered by adverse childhood experiences, can pass to future generations. Such epigenetic effects need urgent study", say the authors. Sir Denis added: "Future research should explore the links between the care of small children in different settings, their cortisol levels, DNA, and behavior."

Source: Eurekalert

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