Marshmallows Used as Saliva Stimulant Do Not Affect Cortisol Concentrations: Finally a Palatable Alternative for Toddler Saliva Collection

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Two studies were conducted to validate marshmallows as a saliva stimulant for use with toddlers. First, cortisol concentrations from 14 subjects (ages 6–46 years) were compared using three saliva collection methods: (1) plain cotton dental roll, (2) dental roll with one mini-marshmallow, and (3) expectorating into a collection tube using no cotton or stimulant. EIA was used for analyses. There were no significant differences among cortisol concentrations. Second, saliva collection compliance rate was compared for 21-month-olds (n = 51) using either flavored drink crystal- (compliance rate = 16.7%) or marshmallow-flavored (compliance rate = 60%) dental rolls for saliva collection (χ2 )1) = 4.02, p = .045). These studies indicate that marshmallow is a viable option for saliva stimulation to determine toddler cortisol concentrations using EIA.