Jason A. DeCaro

University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa, Alabama, United States

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Publications (10)15.91 Total impact

  • Craig Hadley, Jason A. Decaro
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    ABSTRACT: Objectives There is increasing interest in the epidemiology of immune activation among young children because of the links with mortality and growth. We hypothesized that infant and child inflammation, as measured by elevated C-reactive protein (CRP), would be associated with household assets, household size, measures of sanitation, and food insecurity. We also hypothesized that children in the poorest households and with elevated CRP would show evidence of growth faltering.MethodsA nationally representative cross-sectional study of Tanzania children 6–59 months of age. Survey data, anthropometrics, and dried blood spots were available for 1,387 children. Measures of elevated CRP (CRP ≥ 1.1 mg/l) were used to assess inflammation.ResultsFifty-four percent of the sample had CRP ≥ 1.1 mg/l. In bivariate analyses, several measures of sanitation were associated with elevated CRP but in multiple regression models only age, sex, literacy, maternal reports of illness, household size, and living in the wealthiest households predicted CRP. There were no associations between elevated CRP and any measure of child growth.Conclusions Among children in Tanzania, a single elevated CRP does not predict poor growth functioning. Elevated CRP is associated with individual, caretaker, household, and community-level variables. Future work should strive to measure local biologies in more nuanced ways. Am. J. Hum. Biol., 2014. © 2014 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.
    American Journal of Human Biology 05/2014; · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Catherine D Buzney, Jason A Decaro
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    ABSTRACT: Given the ambiguity surrounding the source of the continuing trend toward earlier menarche observed in Westernized nations, several competing explanatory models have emerged regarding variation in pubertal timing. While a biomedical model proposes that predominantly constitutional characteristics shape the maturation timetable, an alternative framework derived from Life History Theory (LHT) evolutionary principles emphasizes the influence of psychosocial factors on development. Working with a sample of women 19-25 years of age (N = 103) drawn from two Southeastern U.S. colleges, we combined cultural consensus analysis with retrospective self-report regarding childhood stress and menarcheal timing to investigate whether reported developmental experiences align with cultural models regarding factors that should drive pubertal timing. Results suggest a robust cultural model consistent with a biomedical framework concentrating principally on constitutional characteristics. However, participants' personal developmental recollections support an association between higher childhood stress and earlier menarche. These findings support LHT predictions that early reproductive maturation is an evolutionary adaptive response to chronic childhood stress as well as clarify the extent to which cultural models of factors contributing to puberty concord with developmental experiences.
    Culture Medicine and Psychiatry 10/2012; · 1.29 Impact Factor
  • Jason A. DeCaro, Erin DeCaro, David H. Ashley
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    ABSTRACT: This report describes Daily Life Architecture (DLA), a structured retrospective diary method developed to document daily experience, and place it into social and cultural context. We also discuss open-access PROUST software that implements DLA for handheld computers, allowing participants to create 24-hour self-report records regarding nearly any domain of experience that can be described through discrete categories. Drawing from a study of the social contexts of physical activity among Mexican American young adults, we describe DLA data collection and validation procedures. DLA data are amenable to both quantitative and qualitative analysis, bolstering the methodological toolkit for social and cultural epidemiology and for ecocultural approaches to child and adolescent development.
    Field Methods 08/2012; 24(3):328-347. · 1.11 Impact Factor
  • Jason A. DeCaro, Carol M. Worthman
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    ABSTRACT: This study tested associations among parenting stress prior to a child’s kindergarten entry, the sustainability of family routines, and biomarkers of stress among parents following the kindergarten transition. Parents (N = 51) with higher prekindergarten scores on the Parenting Stress Index Short Form reported lower Family Routines Inventory scores following school entry relative to their baseline. Declining family routines, in turn, were associated following kindergarten entry with greater 5-day mean and variance in evening cortisol, and higher C-reactive protein, an inflammatory mediator. However, only the cortisol findings remained significant controlling for baseline physiology. These findings support a family systems, social-ecological approach to life course development, wherein even mild challenges posed by children’s normative transitions may reveal differences in parents’ biobehavioral functioning.
    International Journal of Behavioral Development 01/2011; 35(5):441-448. · 1.58 Impact Factor
  • Jason A Decaro, Erin Decaro, Carol M Worthman
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines sex differences in vulnerability among children experiencing rapid culture change that may reflect distinct microecologies driven by differential parental investment and/or sex-specific life history strategies. Apparent female growth canalization may be a life history strategy favoring growth over maintenance but also may reflect sex-differentiated selection for resilience based on unequal treatment during early life. Stature, weight, and serum measures of C-reactive protein (CRP, an inflammation marker) and Epstein-Barr Virus antibodies (EBV, a humoral immune response marker) were collected longitudinally among children/adolescents ages 5-20 years (N = 65), 5-9 years after sustained contact in a fringe highland hunter-horticulturalist group from the Schrader Range in Papua New Guinea exhibiting male preference and sex-biased survival. It was hypothesized that girls would exhibit canalization, with better nutritional status than boys; lower maintenance investment would yield lower female immune activation; and because of differential survivorship, females would appear increasingly canalized as early conditions for girls worsened relative to boys. Girls had greater arm circumference z-scores than boys, less frequent stunting, and lower CRP despite high pathogen load. Average nutritional status for girls improved over time as the sex ratio became increasingly male biased and the condition of female infants reportedly worsened. Both canalization and survivorship effects were found. Although a life history perspective on female canalization can help explain developmental outcomes in populations undergoing rapid culture change amid adversity, possible sex differences in the strength of survivorship effects that select for resiliency should not be ignored.
    American Journal of Human Biology 01/2010; 22(5):657-66. · 2.34 Impact Factor
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    Jason A DeCaro, Carol M Worthman
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    ABSTRACT: The measurement of cardiovascular functioning targets an important bridge between social conditions and differential well-being. Nevertheless, the biocultural, psychosocial processes that link human ecology to cardiovascular function in children remain inadequately characterized. Childrearing practices shaped by parents' cultural beliefs should moderate children's affective responses to daily experience, and hence their psychophysiology. The present study concerns interactions among family ecology, the normative social challenge of entry into kindergarten, and parasympathetic (vagal) cardiac regulation in US middle-class children (N = 30). Although parents believed children must be protected from overscheduling to reduce stress and improve socio-emotional adaptation, maternal rather than child schedules predicted parasympathetic regulation during a nonthreatening social engagement task following school entry. Children of busier married mothers, but less busy single mothers, showed the context-appropriate pattern of parasympathetic regulation, low respiratory sinus arrhythmia (RSA). These findings are expected if: maternal and family functioning, rather than the scheduling of the child's daily life, principally drive young children's cardiovascular responsiveness to a normative challenge; and busy schedules represent high family functioning with married mothers, but not under single-parent conditions wherein adult staffing is uniquely constrained. Family ecology is shaped by culture, and in turn shapes the development of children's cardiovascular responses. Appropriately fine-grained analysis of daily experience can illustrate how culturally driven parenting practices may have unintended consequences for child biological outcomes that vary by family structure.
    American Journal of Human Biology 05/2008; 20(5):572-83. · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Jason A DeCaro
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    ABSTRACT: Salivary alpha-amylase recently has been identified as a stress-related biomarker for autonomic nervous system activity. This study addresses sample collection and handling considerations for field researchers. Saliva was collected by unstimulated passive drool from 14 adults and pooled. Incubation of pooled saliva at 22 or 37 degrees C for 21 days did not diminish amylase activity. However, sodium azide added at concentrations <or=1.12 mg/ml to pooled saliva artificially inflated activity. After dosing cotton rolls within Salivette saliva collection devices with 0.25 to 1.5 ml of unpooled passive drool saliva from six additional adults, recovery of amylase activity was significantly below 100% at all volumes, with increased variance in recovery when the cotton was incompletely saturated (<or=1.0 ml). Hence, collection by passive drool instead of cotton-containing devices for amylase determinations is recommended, particularly whenever it is impossible to ensure full, uniform cotton saturation, and azide should be avoided as a preservative.
    American Journal of Human Biology 05/2008; 20(5):617-9. · 2.34 Impact Factor
  • Jason A DeCaro, Carol M Worthman
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    ABSTRACT: This study examines everyday family life as a social regulator of child adrenocortical activity during the normative challenge of return to school. If positive family function facilitates child adaptation, we expected that mother-child relationships following school entry would predict individual differences in evening cortisol, a context-sensitive marker for the response to concurrent demands. Among 28 children followed longitudinally, late in pre-kindergarten those living with single and/or employed mothers had higher evening cortisol. Yet early during the following school year, children with poorer mother-child relationships had higher evening cortisol. Cortisol awakening response, a comparatively stable marker of anticipated demands, was higher with maternal employment, single parents, and busier child schedules before school re-entry, and with maternal employment afterwards. We argue for a layered ecological approach to social regulation, recognizing that family structure, family functioning, and proximal features of everyday life within the family moderate child adrenocortical activity differently across contexts.
    Developmental Psychobiology 04/2008; 50(2):183-95. · 2.60 Impact Factor
  • Jason A. DeCaro, Carol M. Worthman
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    ABSTRACT: Objective. We evaluated the resolution of conflicts between cultural models of parenting related to child security and child enrichment in the daily scheduling practices of families with young children, given the competing pressures of work and family. Design. Parents in 35 families provided 7 days of detailed prospective daily schedule data for themselves and their preschool-aged focal child using the Daily Life Architecture method. Interviewers probed cultural models for regulation of the child's daily activity, child enrichment and opportunity for development, and household gender ethos. The frequency of transitions between physical activity settings was used as an index of the density of the daily schedule. Results. Parents viewed themselves as responsible for providing their children with security, stimulating experience/enrichment, and continuous supervision, while avoiding schedule overload. Children's schedules were less dense than either parents', a gap that increased with denser parent schedules. Mothers' and children's schedule densities were correlated, but father's and children's schedules were not, except on weekends. Neither single parent status nor maternal employment moderated these relations. Conclusions. Mothers, employed or not, were the principal logistical agents of the household and were “tethered” to their children's schedules. During weekend enrichment activities, “family time” was used to resolve conflicts between ideals of security and enrichment and reestablish egalitarian parenting, with heavy paternal involvement. Children were buffered from the complexity of their parents' schedules and maintained within an implicit, parent perceived target zone of activity for optimal child development.
    PARENTING: SCIENCE AND PRACTICE. 01/2007; 7(2):177-203.
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    Jason A. DeCaro, Carol M. Worthman