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Salivary Bioscience News

Maternal distress alters salivary cortisol, affecting the neuroendocrine-immune network in children

Maternal distress and child neuroendocrine and immune regulation.

Author: Riis JL, et al (2015), Social science & medicine.

This paper examined the extent to which maternal psychological well-being moderates neuroendocrine-immune relations in children. From 2011 to 2013, 125 mothers and their five-year old children were studied in Baltimore, Maryland. Significant cytokine × maternal distress interactions indicated that as maternal distress increased, expected inverse cytokine-cortisol relations within children became weaker for IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α. Sex-stratified models revealed that these interactions were only significant among girls. The findings suggest that maternal distress is associated with child neuroendocrine-immune relations in saliva and may alter the sensitivity of inflammatory immune processes to cortisol’s inhibitory effects. This desensitization may place the child at risk for inflammatory diseases. The findings support efforts for the early detection and treatment of at-risk mothers to protect maternal and child health and well-being.

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Keywords: Acute stress, children, cytokines, maternal mental health, salivary cortisol

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