Child Maltreatment Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Dated: February 2013 Pages: 8-16
This study examined neglected children's acute hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) reactivity in response to a laboratory visit was contrasted with that of a comparison group.
Neglected children's acute hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis (HPA axis) reactivity in response to a laboratory visit was contrasted with that of a comparison group. The authors examined initial salivary cortisol response upon entering the laboratory and its trajectory following a set of tasks designed to elicit negative self-evaluation in 64 children (30 with a history of neglect and 34 demographically matched comparison children). Neglected, but not comparison, children showed higher initial cortisol responses. The cortisol response of both groups showed a decline from the sample taken at lab entry, with neglected children's cortisol exhibiting steeper decline. The groups, however, did not differ in their mean cortisol levels at 20 and 35 min post-task. The results are interpreted in terms of the meaning of initial responses as a "baseline" and as evidence for neglected children's heightened HPA-axis reactivity as either a reflection of differences in home levels or the consequence of stress/anxiety associated with arrival at the laboratory. Abstract published by arrangement with Sage Journals.
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