04.25.2014 - Maternal sensitivity and infant and mother adrenocortical function across challenges

Author: Atkinson L, et al. (2013) Psychoneuroendocrinology.

In this study, cortisol secretion of 297 infants and their mothers was assessed in response to different challenges at 16 and 17 months. Extensive, structured observations of maternal sensitivity were conducted at infant age 16 months. Data were analyzed with multilevel modeling using an actor—partner interdependence model. Infants of more sensitive mothers, as compared to infants of less sensitive mothers, showed greater cortisol variability across challenges, with relatively steep cortisol decreases and increases, depending on challenge. Mother and infant cortisol levels were highly correlated and this attunement was higher among dyads with more sensitive mothers than among dyads with less sensitive mothers.

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