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Salivary Bioscience News

Salivary cortisol and the effects of child care on development in high & low risk contexts

Child Care and Cortisol Across Infancy and Toddlerhood: Poverty, Peers, and Developmental Timing

Author: Berry, et al (2016), Family Relations

Evidence suggests that relations between child care and children’s development—behaviorally and physiologically—likely differ between children from high- versus low-risk contexts. Using 1,155 participant data from the Family Life Project, the authors tested (a) whether within- and between-child differences in children’s child care experiences were predictive of their cortisol levels across infancy and toddlerhood and (b) whether these relations differed for children experiencing different levels of environmental risk. Results indicated that for children from high-risk contexts, within-child increases in child care hours were predictive of cortisol decreases. The inverse was evident for children from low-risk contexts. This relation grew across toddlerhood. Whereas a history of greater center-based child care was predictive of heightened cortisol levels for low-risk families, this was not the case for children from high-risk families. Irrespective of risk, greater peer exposure (between children) was associated with lower cortisol levels.

View Abstract

Keywords: Adolescence, diurnal cortisol, early adversity, hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis, salivary cortisol, trait

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