Kids distressed by family
fighting have higher stress hormone levels
By Girish Bhaskar
Nov 14 (IANS) Children who become very distressed by family
quarrels are more likely to develop psychological problems.
little is known about what happens beyond these behavioural
reactions in terms of their biological responses.
new study by Universities of Rochester and Minnesota has found
that such distressed children also have higher levels of cortisol,
a stress hormone.
results indicate that children who are distressed by conflict
between their parents show greater biological sensitivity
to conflict in the form of higher levels of the stress hormone,
cortisol," according to Patrick T. Davies, professor
of psychology at Rochester, who led the study.
higher levels of cortisol have been linked to a wide range
of mental and physical health difficulties," it "may
help explain why children who experience high levels of distress
when their parents argue are more likely to experience later
health problems," he said.
studied 208 primarily Caucasian six-year-olds and their mothers
to determine whether children who showed specific behaviour
patterns of reacting to conflict also had changes in cortisol
levels during simulated phone arguments between their parents,
said a joint release of these universities.
measured children's distress, hostility, and level of involvement
in the arguments, and received reports from the mothers about
how their children responded when parents fought at home.
levels were measured by taking saliva samples before and after
the conflicts in the lab.
who were very distressed by the conflicts in the lab had higher
levels of cortisol in response to their parents fighting.
Children's levels of hostility and their involvement during
the arguments weren't always related to their levels of cortisol,
the study found.
study will appear in the November/December issue of Child