November 18, 2008
A student’s teacher impacts stress hormone
The relationship between a young child and his or her teacher can affect the levels of the stress hormone cortisol in the child, U.S. researchers believe.
Researchers at Washington State University, Auburn University and the Pennsylvania State University said cortisol, a stress hormone in humans, tends to be at its highest levels in the early morning and gradually declines over the course of the day.
The researchers found that children in classrooms with about 10 children were more likely to show cortisol decreases from morning to afternoon, while children in classrooms with about 20 children tended to show greater increases in cortisol across the day.
Children with more clingy relationships with their teachers showed greater rises in cortisol from morning to afternoon, while children with more conflicted relationships with their teachers showed greater cortisol boosts during a one-on-one session with their teachers.
Lead author Jared A. Lisonbee of Washington State University said this unusual increase of cortisol levels is of potential concern because long-term or frequent elevations can have negative consequences because of increases in blood pressure and blood sugar.
The study is published in the journal Child Development.