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29.10.2018 | Psychiatry and Preclinical Psychiatric Studies - Original Article | Ausgabe 9/2019

Journal of Neural Transmission 9/2019

Hair cortisol concentration in mothers and their children: roles of maternal sensitivity and child symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder

Zeitschrift:
Journal of Neural Transmission > Ausgabe 9/2019
Autoren:
Susan Schloß, Viola Müller, Katja Becker, Nadine Skoluda, Urs M. Nater, Ursula Pauli-Pott

Abstract

Associations between mothers’ and children’s cortisol secretion parameters are well established. According to the bio-behavioral synchrony model, these associations reflect influences of the mother–child relationship, the child’s social adjustment, and might also reflect shared genetic dispositions. From the bio-behavioral synchrony model, we predicted a stronger mother–child hair cortisol concentration (HCC) link in mothers showing highly adequate (compared to those showing less adequate) parenting behaviors and in children showing low (compared to those showing high) ADHD symptoms. From a genetic perspective, no such moderator effects, or a stronger mother–child HCC link in children with high ADHD symptoms, can be expected. The study sample consisted of 111 4–5-year-old children (64 of whom screened positive for increased ADHD symptoms) and their mothers. ADHD symptoms were assessed by a clinical interview and parent and teacher questionnaires. Maternal sensitive/responsive parenting behavior was assessed by an at-home behavior observation procedure. In mothers and children, HCC in the most proximal 3-cm scalp hair segment was analyzed using luminescence immunoassay. Overall HCCs of mothers and their children correlated significantly. Maternal sensitivity/responsiveness and child ADHD symptoms proved to be significant moderator variables of this association: High maternal sensitivity/responsiveness and low ADHD symptoms of the child were associated with a stronger mother–child link in HCC. The findings are in line with the bio-behavioral synchrony model in the mother–child relationship, and are less compatible with a genetic perspective. The results might hint at environmental events influencing the development of stress axis functioning in subgroups of preschoolers with high ADHD symptoms.

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