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Day care increases stress hormone?

(6 Posts)

Hope this is the right place to post this, please do move it if wrong.
I heard this researcher on Radio 4 this morning discussing whether higher levels of cortisol in children could have long-term implications for their adult health.

The full article is here if you want to read it.

Just curious to hear what other mums think. Is daycare stressful for children, or does that depend on the type of daycare? I don't think anyone would argue that high amounts of stress hormones are bad for children, it's more whether daycare is likely to causes these, isn't it?

Jules125 Mon 12-Sep-11 10:21:17

I think he is talking mainly about nurseries; "day care centres" - so maybe should be in that section?

Having looked around nurseries, I kind of agree that certainly 12 babies in one rather small room (as I tend to find in London) can look a bit stressful. Just so much noise, crying babies (even the good nurseries struggle to cope with the 1:3 ratio I think for the very young ones), a bit chaotic. I don't mean to criticise those using nurseries- I almost certainly will at some point, and you do what you have to, but am trying to delay until DD (now 9 months) is a bit older.

But this does not mean that they suffer long term damage - the researcher is merely speculating here and has no evidence for this. Its a bit mean to make us working mums feel even more guilty without any evidence.

ChitChattingWithKids Mon 12-Sep-11 11:32:27

He's also one of the researchers who says that allowing under 3s to watch tv leads to attention deficit disorders.

Looks to me as though he's starting with a concept of an ideal environment for children and proving that everything else leads to nothing but problems.

sparks Mon 12-Sep-11 12:16:29

Correlation does not equal causation. Just because children who go to day care have higher levels of cortisol than other children, doesn't mean it's the day care itself that is causing it. There could be other factors the studies have not looked for that are causing the differences.

The stories are just a lot of anti-woman prejudice if you ask me. Nobody ever says anything about the children's fathers in these stories. Are all these kids the product of anonymous sperm donation?

squinker45 Mon 12-Sep-11 20:05:39

There is lots of research into this, but obviously it only serves to make those who must use nurseries feel bad about it so it makes people angry and defensive when it is brought up.

From what I have read on the subject, the research shows that daycare actually causes (not correlates with) higher levels of cortisol in children. This is to be expected really, as children are being taken away from their parents for reasons that they don't understand.

Parents shouldn't feel bad though, because there often isn't a choice, and other things cause more stress in children such as having a depressed parent (which could of course be caused by someone staying at home when they want to be at work).

The studies can be read to show that the levels of cortisol are raised less with different types of childcare, and the order of preference can be seen as follows: Parent, Grandparent (or other close family member), Nanny, Childminder, Group daycare. This seems pretty much like common sense imo.

Those using group daycare nurseries do so for a variety of reasons, and many find their children are perfectly happy and not affected by it at all. Studies are simply an attempt to measure something, but extrapolating from them is difficult as everyone is different.

MrsJamin Tue 13-Sep-11 07:16:32

See Ben Goldacre's take on Aric Sigman's article here. I wouldn't be too worried, it seems the evidence of A causes B causes C causes D is basically not there.

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