bannerHON
img
HONnews
HONnews
img PATIENT / PARTICULIER img PROFESSIONNEL DE SANTE img WEBMESTRE img
img
 
img
HONcode sites
All Web sites
HONselect
News
Conferences
Images

Themes:
A B C D E F G H I
J K L M N O P Q
R S T U V W X Y Z
Browse archive:
2014: S A J J M A M F J
2013: D N O S

 
  Other news for:
Wounds and Injuries
Parenting
 Resources from HONselect
Stress Hormone May Drive Risk-Taking by Teen Motorists
Study found those with lower cortisol levels were more likely to crash

By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, April 7, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- Teens whose brain chemistry is less affected by stressful situations could be at increased risk for car crashes, a small Canadian study suggests.

Safe-driving teens appear to have higher levels of the stress hormone cortisol, said study author Marie Claude Ouimet, an associate professor of medicine and health sciences at the University of Sherbrooke, in Quebec.

The brain calls for the release of cortisol as part of its "fight-or-flight" response to stressful or dangerous situations. In the study, teens more likely to crash or come close to crashing a car tended to have less cortisol in their system -- indicating that their response to a risky situation may be blunted in some way, researchers say.

"It tells us that maybe some people are more neurobiologically predisposed to risk-taking, or maybe less able to change their driving as a result of experience," said Ouimet.

The World Health Organization says traffic crashes are one of the leading causes of death worldwide for people aged 15 to 29, with the risk at its highest during the first months after teens receive their licenses, according to background information provided in the study.

Using cortisol to track stress response, officials in the future may be able to determine whether certain teens need more training to reduce their risk of crashes, Ouimet suggested.

She and her colleagues tracked 42 volunteers in the United States, all aged 16, for the first 18 months after they received their driver's license.

At the start of the study, the researchers measured each teen's stress response by asking them to solve a series of math problems, telling them that $60 would be awarded to the person with the highest score.

Doctors took saliva samples from teens to measure their cortisol levels before and after the math problems, and used those samples to estimate each kid's response to stress.

The teens were then let loose on the roads, in cars that measured their driving behavior using a series of sensors, cameras and GPS.

Researchers found that the teens with a higher cortisol response to stress were less likely to crash or experience a near crash, according to the results published online April 7 in the journal JAMA Pediatrics.

Teens with a greater stress response also experienced a faster decline in their crash/near crash rate over time, indicating that their driving safety improved more quickly than that of teens with a low cortisol response to stress.

The gender of the driver did not matter -- the driving risk of both boys and girls appeared linked to their cortisol levels, the study found.

"This might help explain why some people are more predisposed to risk and less able to change their behavior as a result of experience," Ouimet said. "If you do not experience stress in a stressful situation, then maybe it means that if you're very stressed you're more likely to learn from that experience and not want to repeat it."

However, parents should not expect to see a test available anytime soon to determine their teens' driving risk, said Dr. Karen Sheehan, medical director of the Injury Prevention and Research Center at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago.

"As intriguing as their research results are, it is too soon to say we have a clinically useful marker to use to screen teens for increased risk of crashes," Sheehan said. "The results do help remind us that every teen is different in their risk-taking behaviors and/or their response to stress, and as we teach them to drive we need to keep this in mind. Some teens may need more supervised driving experience than others before they are ready to drive solo."

Although the study tied lower cortisol response to stress to higher risk of car crashes, it did not prove cause-and-effect.

More information

To learn more about cortisol and the body's stress response, visit Rutgers University.

SOURCES: Marie Claude Ouimet, Ph.D., associate professor, medicine and health sciences, University of Sherbrooke, Quebec; Karen Sheehan, M.D., medical director, Injury Prevention and Research Center, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago; April 7, 2014, JAMA Pediatrics

Copyright © 2014 HealthDay. All rights reserved. URL:http://consumer.healthday.com/Article.asp?AID=686599

Resources from HONselect: HONselect is the HON's medical search engine. It retrieves scientific articles, images, conferences and web sites on the selected subject.
Hydrocortisone
Drive
Risk-Taking
Risk
Hormones
Wounds and Injuries
Research Personnel
Behavior
Brain
Aged
The list of medical terms above are retrieved automatically from the article.

Disclaimer: The text presented on this page is not a substitute for professional medical advice. It is for your information only and may not represent your true individual medical situation. Do not hesitate to consult your healthcare provider if you have any questions or concerns. Do not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease without consulting a qualified healthcare professional.
Be advised that HealthDay articles are derived from various sources and may not reflect your own country regulations. The Health On the Net Foundation does not endorse opinions, products, or services that may appear in HealthDay articles.


Home img About us img MediaCorner img HON newsletter img Site map img Ethical policies img Contact