Stress in small children separated from their parents may alter genes

Experts in the emotional needs of small children say increased levels of the stress hormone cortisol in babies and small children who are separated from their parents, especially their mothers, could have a long-term genetic impact on future generations. In a commentary published by the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 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.

Professor Sir Denis Pereira Gray, Emeritus Professor of General Practice at the University of Exeter, and President of the children’s charity ‘What About the Children?’ who wrote the paper with two colleagues, said: “Cortisol release is a normal response to stress in mammals facing an emergency and is usually useful. However, sustained cortisol release over hours or days can be harmful.”

Full article at Science Daily

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