Social behavior and cortisol reactivity in children with fragile X syndrome
Article first published online: 9 NOV 2005
Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume 47, Issue 6, pages 602–610, June 2006
How to Cite
Hessl, D., Glaser, B., Dyer-Friedman, J. and Reiss, A. L. (2006), Social behavior and cortisol reactivity in children with fragile X syndrome. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 47: 602–610. doi: 10.1111/j.1469-7610.2005.01556.x
- Issue published online: 26 APR 2006
- Article first published online: 9 NOV 2005
- Manuscript accepted 12 July 2005
- Fragile X syndrome;
- social phobia;
- FMR1 gene;
Objective: To examine the association between limbic-hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (L-HPA) axis reactivity and social behavior in children with fragile X syndrome (FXS).
Method: Salivary cortisol changes and concurrent anxiety-related behaviors consistent with the behavioral phenotype of FXS were measured in 90 children with the fragile X full mutation and their 90 unaffected siblings during a social challenge task in the home.
Results: Boys and girls with FXS demonstrated more gaze aversion, task avoidance, behavioral signs of distress, and poorer vocal quality than the unaffected siblings. Multiple regression analyses showed that after accounting for effects of IQ, gender, age, quality of the home environment, and basal cortisol level, cortisol reactivity to the task was significantly associated with social gaze in children with FXS. The most gaze-aversive children with FXS had cortisol reductions, whereas those with more eye contact demonstrated the most cortisol reactivity. Unaffected siblings demonstrated an opposite pattern in which less eye contact was associated with increased cortisol reactivity.
Conclusions: Results of the study suggest a unique relation between abnormal gaze behavior and L-HPA mediated stress reactivity in FXS.