Physiological Attunement in Mother-Infant Dyads at Clinical High Risk: The Influence of Maternal Depression and Positive Parenting Open Access

Hendrix, Cassie (2016)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/9019s2885?locale=en
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Abstract

A growing number of research studies have examined the intra-dyadic coregulation (attunement) of psychobiological stress responses, such as hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis functioning, in mothers and their children. However, it is unclear how early this co-regulation may be present in dyads at clinical high risk and whether certain factors, such as maternal depression or positive parenting, are associated with the strength of this co-regulation. The present study used Hierarchical Linear Modeling to examine physiological attunement within mother-infant dyads in a high risk sample of 233 mothers who received treatment for psychiatric illness during pregnancy and whose infants were 6 months old at the study visit. Results showed that maternal and infant cortisol co-varied across 4 time points that included a stressor paradigm and a mother infant interaction task. Maternal positive affect, but not depression, predicted stronger cortisol attunement. In addition, infants' cortisol response to maternal separation predicted mothers' cortisol response at the next time point. Mothers' cortisol responses to separation and the laboratory stress paradigm predicted infants' cortisol responses at each successive time point, over and above infants' own cortisol at the previous time point. These findings suggest that maternal and infant cortisol levels may influence one another in a bidirectional fashion in a stressful context. Theoretical and clinical implications are discussed.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction ..................................................................... 1 Methods .......................................................................... 13 Results ........................................................................... 18 Discussion ....................................................................... 21 References ...................................................................... 28 Figures & Tables .............................................................. 38

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