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Saliva Test May Help Predict Depression Risk in Boys

BananaStock/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- A saliva test for depression could help identify boys who may need therapy, according to a new study from Cambridge University.

The report, published in Proceedings of the National Academies of Science, identified what researchers call "the first biomarker" for clinical depression.

Researchers collected spit samples from hundreds of teenagers and measured cortisol, a stress hormone, in their saliva. After following the group for one to three years, they found that teenage boys with symptoms of depression and raised levels of cortisol are up to 14 times more likely to develop major depression than those without the traits. The test was less effective with girls.

Ian Goodyer, a professor at the university's Department of Psychiatry who led the study, said that the researcher helps establish a real way of identifying teen boys developing the disorder.

"This will help us strategically target preventions and interventions at these individuals and hopefully help reduce their risk of serious episodes of depression and their consequences in adult life," Goodyer said.

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