Maternal early life maltreatment and psychopathology affect the next generation: Alterations in post‐awakening cortisol levels of primary school‐aged children

Hillmann, Karen; Neukel, Corinne; Zimmermann, Johannes; Fuchs, Anna; Zietlow, Anna‐Lena; Möhler, Eva; Herpertz, Sabine C.; Kaess, Michael; Bertsch, Katja (2021). Maternal early life maltreatment and psychopathology affect the next generation: Alterations in post‐awakening cortisol levels of primary school‐aged children. Developmental psychobiology, 63(1), pp. 98-107. Wiley 10.1002/dev.21996

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Early life maltreatment (ELM) has severe and lasting effects on the individual, which might also impact the next generation. On an endocrine level, the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis has been suggested to play an important role in the interplay between ELM and the development of mental disorders. Several studies have revealed that maternal post-awakening cortisol concentration, maternal sensitivity, maternal ELM and psychopathology are associated with children's cortisol levels. We investigated the post-awakening cortisol concentrations in 6- to 11-year-old children (N = 53) whose mothers either had experienced ELM and had developed a lifetime mental disorder (N = 15 ELM and disorder group), had experienced ELM without developing a mental disorder (N = 12 ELM-only group), or had neither experienced ELM nor developed a mental disorder (N = 26 HC-group). Furthermore, we assessed maternal post-awakening cortisol concentrations, maternal psychopathology, and sensitivity. Multilevel analysis revealed higher cortisol at awakening (S1) levels in children of mothers with ELM and disorder. Maternal cortisol at awakening (S1) also predicted the child's cortisol at awakening (S1), and no effect of maternal sensitivity could be found. The current results replicate an attunement of cortisol levels (S1) between mothers and children and suggest an association between the children's endocrine stress system and maternal factors such as ELM and psychopathology.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)

Division/Institute:

04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy
04 Faculty of Medicine > University Psychiatric Services > University Hospital of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy > Research Division

UniBE Contributor:

Kaess, Michael

Subjects:

600 Technology > 610 Medicine & health

ISSN:

1098-2302

Publisher:

Wiley

Language:

English

Submitter:

Chantal Michel

Date Deposited:

25 Dec 2020 13:01

Last Modified:

03 Jan 2021 01:35

Publisher DOI:

10.1002/dev.21996

PubMed ID:

32497280

BORIS DOI:

10.48350/148967

URI:

https://boris.unibe.ch/id/eprint/148967

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