Publications18.10.2018

Stress and behavioral problems in preschoolers


Important findings on acute stress reactivity in 2-6-years old preschool children applying an age-adapted stress task have been published. Exposed to a stress task, children reacted with an ANS response, but not with a HPA response while child- and task-related characteristics influenced stress reactivity.

Stülb, K., Messerli-Bürgy, N., Arhab, A., Kakebeeke, T.H., Zysset, A.E., Leeger-Aschmann, C.S., Schmutz, E.A., Ehlert, U., Kriemler, S., Jenni, O.G., Munsch, S., Puder, J.J. (2018). Age-adapted stress task in preschoolers does not lead to uniform stress responses. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 1-17.

In addition, a self-developed picture-based stress test and a emotional expression rating scheme were applied in the same cohort to capture emotional responses to a stress task. The new assessment technique showed convergent validity with physiological response during and after the stress task.

Stülb, K., Messerli-Bürgy, N., Kakebeeke, T.H., Arhab, A., Zysset, A.E., Leeger-Aschmann, C.S., Schmutz, E.A., Meyer A.H., Bechtler, B., Schneider S., Kriemler, S., Jenni, O.G., Puder, J.J., Munsch, S., (2018). Assessment of emotional responses in preschoolers to an age-adapted stress task: Picture-based stress test and facial coding. Journal of Child and Adolescent Health, 2(2):14-18.

Analyses of the SPLASHY cohort revealed that physiological stress measures during the day are related to body fat and to behavioral problems already in preschool children.

Messerli-Bürgy, N., Arhab, A., Stülb, K., Kakebeeke, T.H., Zysset, A.E., Leeger-Aschmann, C.S… Kriemler, S., Jenni, O.G., Munsch, S., Puder, J.J. (2018). Physiological stress measures in preschool children and their relationship with body composition and behavioural problems. Developmental Psychobiology, online published first. doi: 10.1002/dev.21782

Emotional eating in children at preschool age was related to the child’s temperament. Children with high levels of negative emotionality showed more emotional eating behavior and might be at-risk for eat and weight regulation problems in later childhood.

Messerli-Bürgy, N., Stülb, K., Kakebeeke, T.H., Arhab, A., Zysset, A.E., Leeger-Aschmann, C.S., Schmutz, E.A., Meyer, A., Ehlert, U., Garcia-Burgos, D., Kriemler, S., Jenni, O.G., Puder, J.J., Munsch, S. (2018). Emotional eating is related with temperament but not with biological stress responses in preschool children. Appetite, 120,256-264. doi : 10.1016/j.appet.2017.08.032

Nearly 7% of the Swiss preschool children show clinically-relevant behavioral problems, but only 3% show persistant symptoms. Low socioeconomic status and negative parenting style are related to these behavioral problems.

Stülb, K., Messerli-Bürgy, N., Kakebeeke, T.H., Arhab, A., Zysset A.E., Leeger-Aschmann, C.S., Schmutz, E.A., Meyer, A.H., Kriemler, S., Jenni, O.G., Puder, J.J., Munsch, S. (accepted). Prevalence and predictors of behavioral problems in healthy Swiss preschool children over a year's period. Child Psychiatry & Human Development.