Stress in childhood and adulthood has combined impact on hormone patterns and ultimately in health outcomes a recent study suggests. One of the ways that our brain responds to daily stressors is by releasing a hormone called cortisol. Typically our cortisol levels peak in the morning and gradually decline throughout the day. But sometimes this system can become dysregulated resulting in a flatter cortisol pattern that is associated with negative health outcomes. What we find is that the amount of a person's exposure to early life stress plays an important role in the development of unhealthy patterns of cortisol release.