Intervention Effects on Morning and Stimulated Cortisol Responses Among Toddlers in Foster Care.
Nelson, Elizabeth M. Spieker, Susan J.
Arizona State University.
Published: May/June 2013
Infant Mental Health Journal
Vol. 34, No. 3 , p. 211-221
John Wiley & Sons
111 River Street
Hoboken, NJ 07030-5774
Toddlers in child welfare often have a dysregulated stress response. We tested whether toddlers with caregivers randomized to a 10-week attachment-based intervention, Promoting First Relationships (PFR; J.F. Kelly, D. Sandoval, T.G. Zuckerman, & K. Buehlman, 2008) would show postintervention change in stimulated salivary cortisol patterns during a research home visit involving a separation-reunion procedure, as compared to a condition including child development and resource advice, but no attachment strategies. At baseline and postintervention, toddlers with a caregiver change within 7 weeks of enrollment (n = 48, age 10-25 months) provided four saliva samples during a 1½hr research visit, and samples the next morning. The categorical dependent variable was the pattern of cortisol activity during the course of the postintervention research visit: flat, decreasing, or increasing. Multinomial logistic regression was used to test for postintervention group differences in cortisol patterns, controlling for time of day, child's age, morning cortisol level, and baseline cortisol pattern. At baseline and postintervention, 92% of children demonstrated atypically low morning cortisol (<.21 ig/dL); postintervention, flat, decreasing, and increasing patterns were exhibited by 70, 15, and 15% of the sample, respectively. Significantly more children in the PFR condition showed an increasing pattern. This may signal an intervention effect on separation-based stress response physiology. (Author abstract)
preschool children; attachment; foster children; foster care; separation; stress; early intervention programs