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Stress hormones are higher in children of parents who suffer from bipolar disorder

Category: Hormones and Metabolism

Cortisol testing may be important for children of bipolar parents. A group of Concordia University researchers is urging parents with the mental disorder to monitor stress levels in their children after conducting a study, which found that these young people often have elevated cortisol levels.

The researchers said that previous studies have shown that offspring of adults with bipolar disorder are up to four times more likely to develop mood disorders. They believe that their finding of increased cortisol levels in these children may help explain this heightened risk.

To obtain their findings, the investigation team gave cortisol tests to a group of children during times of stress and calm. Some of these youths had bipolar parents. Cortisol levels were found to be elevated at all times in participants whose parents had mental disorders.

Mark Ellenborgen, who led the study, said that this may give parents and doctors clues for how to help prevent bipolar disorder in young people who are elevated risk.

"We think we might be beginning to understand where we can intervene to actually prevent this increased sensitivity from developing," he said.

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