Effects of a Psychosocial Family-Based Preventive Intervention on Cortisol Response to a Social Challenge in Preschoolers at High Risk for Antisocial Behavior

NYU Child Study Center, New York University School of Medicine, 215 Lexington Avenue, New York, NY 10016, USA.
Archives of General Psychiatry (Impact Factor: 14.48). 11/2007; 64(10):1172-9. DOI: 10.1001/archpsyc.64.10.1172
Source: PubMed


Salivary cortisol levels during social challenge relate to adaptive functioning in children and adults. Low cortisol levels have been related to conduct problems and antisocial behavior. Although studies in rodents implicate early-life social experience in cortisol regulation, no studies with humans have examined the effects of an experimentally manipulated early-life social experience on cortisol regulation.
To examine the effects of experimental manipulations of social experience on cortisol response to a social challenge in preschoolers at risk for antisocial behavior.
Randomized controlled trial.
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine.
Ninety-two preschool-age siblings of youths adjudicated for delinquent acts. Intervention Family-based intervention included 22 weekly group sessions for parents and preschoolers and 10 biweekly home visits conducted during a 6- to 8-month period.
Salivary cortisol levels before and after a social challenge (entry into an unfamiliar peer group).
Relative to controls, children in the intervention condition had increased cortisol levels in anticipation of the peer social challenge. Increases were relative to both preintervention cortisol levels during the challenge and cortisol levels in the home, which were not altered by the intervention.
A family-based preventive intervention for children at high risk for antisocial behavior alters stress response in anticipation of a peer social challenge. The experimentally induced change in cortisol levels parallels patterns found in normally developing, low-risk children.

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    • "Aspects of experience that promote this flexible regulation assist the individual in meeting stressful contingencies in the future (Lyons & Parker, 2007). In evaluations of exemplary intervention programs focusing on parenting in high risk contexts, beneficial effects on child physiology as well as behavior have been demonstrated (Brotman et al., 2007; Fisher, Gunnar, Dozier, Bruce, & Pears, 2006). "
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    ABSTRACT: Cortisol output in response to emotion induction procedures was examined at child age 24 months in a prospective longitudinal sample of 1,292 children and families in predominantly low-income and nonurban communities in two regions of high poverty in the United States. Multilevel analysis indicated that observed emotional reactivity to a mask presentation but not a toy removal procedure interacted with sensitive parenting to predict cortisol levels in children. For children experiencing high levels of sensitive parenting, cortisol output was high among children exhibiting high emotional reactivity and low among children exhibiting low emotional reactivity. For children experiencing low levels of sensitive parenting, cortisol output was unrelated to emotional reactivity. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2015 APA, all rights reserved).
    Full-text · Article · Jul 2015 · Developmental Psychology
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    • "Finally, to gain a better understanding of the relationship between ACEs and BP, research should focus on older adolescents, ideally tracking them over time to evaluate whether the effect on BP occurs in later years and whether it is preceded by changes in BMI and WC. Danese & McEwen argue that the adverse effects of ACEs in childhood can be reversible if the child’s environment is returned to a stable state [33,38,39]. This suggests that studies should examine how these risks can be mitigated among children and whether this can reduce the potential long-term health consequences shown repeatedly in studies among adults. "
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    ABSTRACT: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse, household dysfunction, and neglect, have been shown to increase adults' risk of developing chronic conditions and risk factors for chronic conditions, including cardiovascular disease (CVD). Much less work has investigated the effect of ACEs on children's physical health status that may lead to adult chronic health conditions. Therefore, the present study examined the relationship between ACEs and early childhood risk factors for adult cardiovascular disease. 1 234 grade six to eight students participated in school-based data collection, which included resting measures of blood pressure (BP), heart rate (HR), body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC). Parents of these children completed an inventory of ACEs taken from the Childhood Trust Events Survey. Linear regression models were used to assess the relationship between experiencing more than 4 ACEs experienced, systolic BP, HR, BMI and WC. In additional analysis, ACEs were assessed ordinally in their relationship with systolic BP, HR, and BMI as well as clinical obesity and hypertension status. After adjustment for family education, income, age, sex, physical activity, and parental history of hypertension, and WC for HR models, four or more ACEs had a significant effect on HR (b = 1.8 bpm, 95% CI (0.1-3.6)) BMI (b =1.1 kg/m2, 95% CI (0.5-1.8)), and WC (b = 3.6 cm, 95% CI (1.8-5.3)). A dose--response relationship between ACE accumulation and both BMI and WC was also found to be significant. Furthermore, accumulation of 4 or more ACEs was significantly associated with clinical obesity (95th percentile), after controlling for the aforementioned covariates. In a community sample of grade six to eight children, accumulation of 4 or more ACEs significantly increased BMI, WC and resting HR. Therefore, risk factors related to reported associations between ACEs and cardiovascular outcomes among adults are identifiable in childhood suggesting earlier interventions to reduce CVD risk are required.
    Full-text · Article · Dec 2013 · BMC Pediatrics
    • "Moreover, consistent with the theory of change, intervention-induced improvements in parenting accounted for a large portion of variance in the intervention effect on child physical aggression (Brotman et al., 2009). Additional findings for this high-risk sample highlight the complex relations among parenting, stress, and behavior in families ; for example, early family intervention increased and normalized cortisol levels in these high-risk children (Brotman et al., 2007) and intervention-induced changes in cortisol mediated changes in aggression among children whose parents showed low baseline responsiveness (O'Neal et al., 2010). To understand if this group-based preventive intervention impacted parenting broadly in this high-risk sample or for certain subgroups, the current study examines whether initial levels of parent psychological resources moderate previously-reported intervention effects on three aspects of parenting (responsive parenting, harsh parenting , and stimulation for learning). "
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    ABSTRACT: The current study examined whether parent psychological resources (parenting stress, depression, and social support from friends and family) moderated the effects of early family preventive intervention on parenting among high-risk families. Ninety-two preschool-age children (M age = 3.94 years) at familial risk for conduct problems participated in a randomized controlled trial of a family intervention to prevent conduct problems. The majority of families were African American or Latino and experienced multiple stressors associated with poverty and familial antisocial behavior. Families were randomized to a 22-session group-based intervention or to a no-intervention, assessment-only control condition. Parents reported on their psychological resources (parenting stress, depression and social support from friends and family) at baseline. Parenting (responsive, harsh, stimulation for learning) was assessed through self-report and observational measures four times over 24 months. Previously-reported intervention effects on responsive parenting and stimulation for learning were moderated by depression and social support from friends, respectively, such that benefits were concentrated among those at greatest risk (i.e., depressed, limited support from friends). The intervention effect on harsh parenting was not moderated by any of the parent psychological resources examined, such that parents with high and low resources benefited comparably. Consideration of moderators of preventive intervention effects on parenting provides important information about intervention impact among families experiencing multiple barriers to engagement and effective parenting. Findings suggest that parents with diminished psychological resources are just as likely to benefit. Family-focused, group-based intervention is promising for strengthening parenting among the highest risk families.
    No preview · Article · Sep 2013 · Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology
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