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Drool Stress Test

July 13, 2006

If the blood-curdling cry’s not enough to tell you that your baby’s stressed out, you might want to check the tyke’s drool.


Signs of stress in baby drool. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

If you think your baby might be stressed out, a simple drool test could confirm it. The test looks for alpha-amylase, a digestive enzyme found in saliva. Increases in the enzyme have been linked to stress in adults. Now, a team led by Doug Granger, director of the Behavioral Endocrinology Lab at Penn State University, found that babies also produce more of the enzyme in stressful situations. In older children, higher alpha-amylase levels were linked to social problems, academic difficulties, and even physical illness.

DOUG GRANGER (Penn State University):
We are hoping that measures like this one will allow us to determine who is more at risk of some of these negative consequences of stress.

And the ease of a saliva test could lead to new insights and earlier interventions for droolers of all ages. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.