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Effects of Parental Depressive Symptoms on Child Adjustment Moderated by Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Activity: Within- and Between-Family Risk

Authors


  • This project was supported by R01 HD042608, NICHD, NIDA, and (the Office of the Director OBSSR), NIH; U.S. PHS (PI Years 1–5: David Reiss; PI Years 6–10: Leslie D. Leve). The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development or the National Institutes of Health. Additional support was provided by P30 DA023920, R01 DA020585, and R01 MH092118. Support was provided to Gordon Harold by a project grant award from the Nuffield Foundation. We would like to thank the birth and adoptive parents who participated in this study and the adoption agencies who helped with the recruitment of study participants. Special gratitude is given to Rand Conger, John Reid, Xiaojia Ge, and Laura Scaramella who contributed to the larger study aims.

  • [Correction added on 10/15/2012, after first online publication 9/26/2012: The article's title has been corrected to “Effects of Parental Depressive Symptoms on Child Adjustment Moderated by Hypothalamic Pituitary Adrenal Activity: Within- and Between-Family Risk.”]

Correspondence concerning this article should be addressed to Heidemarie Laurent, Department of Psychology, Dept. 3415, 1000 E, University Ave, Laramie, WY 82071. Electronic mail may be sent to hlaurent@uwyo.edu.

Abstract

Child hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) activity was investigated as a moderator of parental depressive symptom effects on child behavior in an adoption sample (= 210 families). Adoptive parents' depressive symptoms and child internalizing and externalizing were assessed at 18, 27, and 54 months, and child morning and evening HPA activity measured through salivary cortisol at 54 months. Children's daily cortisol levels and day-to-day variability were tested as moderators of longitudinal associations between parent and child symptoms at within- and between-family levels. Mothers' symptoms related directly to child internalizing, but child evening cortisol moderated effects of fathers' symptoms on internalizing, and of both parents' symptoms on externalizing. Different paths of within-family risk dynamics versus between-family risk synergy were found for internalizing versus externalizing outcomes.

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