04.17.2014 - Anxiety and chronic relationship stress moderate adrenocortical response in expectant parents

Author: Feinberg ME, et al. (2013) British Journal of Psychology.

The study examines whether anxiety or chronic relationship stress alter the way that couple conflict affects cortisol levels for women and men during the transition to parenthood. Saliva samples, assayed for cortisol, were collected before and after couple interaction from 128 heterosexual couples expecting their first child. Confirming prior research, expectant mothers had higher cortisol levels than their spouses, and gestational age was linked to women's cortisol level. Negativity during couple interaction was associated with greater cortisol reactivity for men, but not women. Consistent results were also found for the relation between low warmth in the couple interaction and both reactivity and recovery for men and women high in anxiety.