This paper presents a cross-sectional study examining the influence of neighborhood violence on multiple aspects of mothers’ health. While the influence of neighborhood violence on health is important to understand for all populations, mothers are especially important as they play a key role in protecting their children from the consequences of violence. Three hundred and ninety-two Baltimore City mothers of children 5 years and younger completed a self-administered survey that included questions about perceptions of their safety as well as their personal experiences with neighborhood violence. Separate models were run to compare the relationship between each measurement of neighborhood violence and five diverse health-related determinants and outcomes: self-reported health status, smoking, exercise, average hours of sleep a night, and sleep interruption. Controlling for mother’s age, child’s age, maternal education, and marital status, mothers with high exposure to neighborhood violence were twice as likely to report poorer health, smoking, never exercising, and poor sleep habits. Maternal perception of neighborhood safety was not related to any of the assessed health-related determinants and outcomes. This study emphasizes the importance of measuring exposure to neighborhood violence rather than solely assessing perceived safety. Neighborhood violence was a common experience for mothers in this urban sample, and should be considered by health professionals in trying to understand and intervene to improve the health of mothers and their children.
Neighborhood violence; Women’s health; Measurement
Knowledge of childrearing and child development is relevant to parenting and the well-being of children. In a sociodemographically heterogeneous sample of 268 European American mothers of 2-year-olds, we assessed the state of mothers’ parenting knowledge, compared parenting knowledge in groups of mothers who varied in terms of parenthood and social status, and identified principal sources of mothers’ parenting knowledge in terms of social factors, parenting supports, and formal classes. On the whole, European American mothers demonstrated a fair but less than complete basic parenting knowledge, and mothers’ age, education, and rated helpfulness of written materials each uniquely contributed to their knowledge. Adult mothers scored higher than adolescent mothers, and mothers improved in their knowledge of parenting from their first to their second child (and were stable across time). No differences were found between mothers of girls and boys, mothers who varied in employment status, or between birth and adoptive mothers. The implications of variation in parenting knowledge and its sources for parenting education and clinical interactions with parents are discussed.
This study examined the association between the security of attachment and processes influencing the development of emotion regulation in young children. A sample of 73 4 1/2-year-olds and their mothers were observed in an emotion regulation probe involving mild frustration for children, and mothers and children were later independently interviewed about how the child had felt. Fewer than half the mothers agreed with children’s self-reports in the emotion they attributed to children (a lower rate than the concordance of observer ratings with children’s self-reports), and higher mother-child concordance was associated with secure attachment and mother’s beliefs about the importance of attending to and accepting their own emotions. Mother-child conversations about recent events evoking children’s negative emotion were also analyzed. Children were less likely to avoid conversing about negative feelings when they were in secure attachments and when mothers were more validating of the child’s perspective. Children’s greater understanding of negative emotions was also significantly associated with higher mother-child concordance and less child conversational avoidance. Taken together, these findings underscore the multiple influences of attachment on emotion regulation and the importance of children’s emotion understanding to these processes.
Emotion regulation; Security of attachment; Sensitivity; Emotion understanding
The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of smoking in pregnancy on parenting stress. Maternal psychological symptoms and socioeconomic status (SES) were evaluated as potential mediating factors between prenatal cigarette use and later parenting stress.
The sample included 218 mothers who were recruited at the hospital after birth and completed a 6-month visit with their infants at a university laboratory. Based on the mothers’ responses to interviews at the hospital on tobacco use during pregnancy, the sample included 77 nonsmokers and 141 smokers. Information on sociodemographic variables, prenatal care, and other substance use during pregnancy was collected at the hospital interview. At the 6-month visit, the mothers completed measures of parenting stress and psychological symptoms. Cotinine levels were assessed at both timepoints.
Regression analysis showed that maternal smoking during pregnancy predicted parenting stress in infancy. Maternal symptoms of psychological distress and SES were evaluated simultaneously to determine whether they functioned as mediating variables between smoking in pregnancy and parenting stress. A multiple mediation analysis (Preacher & Hayes, 2008a) showed that maternal psychological symptoms functioned as a mediating variable but that SES did not.
Results suggest that mothers who smoke in pregnancy are likely to experience higher levels of psychological symptoms, which, in turn, predict higher levels of parenting stress. Smoking in pregnancy may be a marker for symptoms of psychological distress in mothers.
To examine the association between maternal smoking during pregnancy and the development of smoking behaviour patterns among young adult offspring.
Data were from the Mater‐University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy (MUSP), a birth cohort of 7223 mothers and children enrolled in Brisbane, Australia, in 1981. The development of smoking behaviours (early or late onset, or combination of onset and prevalence patterns) among offspring at age 21 years with different patterns of maternal smoking (never smoked, smoked before or after pregnancy but not during pregnancy, or smoked during pregnancy) were compared. Maternal smoking information was derived from the prospectively collected data from the beginning of pregnancy until the child was 14 years of age. Analyses were restricted to the 3058 mothers and children whose smoking status was reported.
The proportion of young adults who smoked regularly, either with early onset or late onset, was greater among those whose mothers had smoked during pregnancy compared with those whose mothers had never smoked. The smoking patterns among those adolescent offspring whose mothers stopped smoking during pregnancy, but who then smoked at other times during the child's life, were similar to those whose mothers had never smoked. This association was robust to adjustment for a variety of potential covariates.
The findings provide some evidence for a direct effect of maternal smoking in utero on the development of smoking behaviour patterns of offspring and provide yet another incentive to persuade pregnant women not to smoke.
The purpose of this study was to investigate gender-specific variations in the associations between communication with father and mother, cigarette smoking, alcohol drinking and marijuana use in male and female adolescents. Cross-sectional data were collected from a national sample of 1308 tenth graders who participated in the 2005/06 U.S. HBSC. Outcome variables were self-reported substances used in the past 30 days. Logistic regression analyses controlling for race/ethnicity, family structure and socioeconomic status showed that the association of mother and father communication with adolescent substance use varied by substance and gender. Among sons, father communication was protective against marijuana use and mother communication was protective against smoking. Neither father nor mother communication were protective against substance use by daughters. Research is needed to understand gender-specific differences in correlates of adolescent substance use and the implications for prevention and intervention.
Substance use; parent-child communication; gender difference; adolescent; risk behavior; HBSC
To examine the association and predictors of dietary intake resemblance between urban low-income African American adolescents and their mothers.
Detailed dietary data collected from 121 child-parent pairs in Chicago in Fall 2003 were used. The association was assessed using correlation coefficients, kappa, and percentage of agreement, and logistic regression models.
Overall, the association was weak as indicated by correlations and other measures. None of the mother-son correlations for nutrients and food groups were greater than 0.20. Mother-daughter pairs had stronger correlations (0.26 for energy and 0.30 for fat). The association was stronger in normal weight- than overweight or obese mothers. Logistic models showed that mother being a current smoker, giving child more pocket money, and allowing child to eat or purchase snacks without parental permission or presence predicted a higher probability of resemblance in undesirable eating patterns, such as high-energy, high-fat, and high-snack intakes (p<0.05).
Mother-child diet association was generally weak, and varied considerably across groups and intake variables in this homogenous population. Some maternal characteristics seem to affect the association.
child; adolescent; mother; diet; African American; association; correlation
We used data from the first wave of the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health to examine family boundary ambiguity in adolescent and mother reports of family structure and found that the greater the family complexity, the more likely adolescent and mother reports of family structure were discrepant. This boundary ambiguity in reporting was most pronounced for cohabiting stepfamilies. Among mothers who reported living with a cohabiting partner, only one-third of their teenage children also reported residing in a cohabiting stepfamily. Conversely, for those adolescents who reported their family structure as a cohabiting stepfamily, just two-thirds of their mothers agreed. Levels of agreement between adolescents and mothers about residing in a two-biological-parent family, single-mother family, or married stepfamily were considerably higher. Estimates of the distribution of adolescents across family structures vary according to whether adolescent, mother, or combined reports are used. Moreover, the relationship between family structure and family processes differed depending on whose reports of family structure were used, and boundary ambiguity was associated with several key family processes. Family boundary ambiguity presents an important measurement challenge for family scholars.
The current study examined co-rumination (i.e., extensively discussing, rehashing, and speculating about problems) in the context of mother-adolescent relationships. Fifth-, eighth-, and eleventh-graders (N = 516) reported on co-rumination and more normative self-disclosure with mothers, their relationships with mothers, and their own internalizing symptoms. A subset of mothers (N = 200) reported on mother-adolescent co-rumination and self-disclosure. Results from the adolescent-report data indicated greater mother-adolescent co-rumination with daughters than sons and also adjustment trade-offs of mother-adolescent co-rumination. Mother-adolescent co-rumination was related to positive relationship quality but also to enmeshment in the relationship. Whereas the relation with positive relationship quality appeared to be due in part to normative self-disclosure, the relation with enmeshment was unique to co-rumination. Mother-adolescent co-rumination also was related to youth anxiety/depression. The relations with enmeshment and internalizing symptoms were strongest when co-rumination focused on the mothers' problems. Implications of mother-adolescent co-rumination for promoting appropriate relationship boundaries and youth well-being are discussed.
It is known that many mothers rapidly share the results of their BRCA1/2 genetic testing with their children, especially adolescent children. What is less known is the extent to which these mothers may engage fathers in a discussion concerning genetic counseling and the anticipated disclosure of genetic test results to children, or seek shared decision making in this context. This short communication addresses this issue by first examining mothers' and fathers' discussions concerning a research study of family communication. In our view, this conversation likely served as a precursor to, and proxy indicator of, maternal receptivity to partner input regarding the genetic counseling/testing-results disclosure process. We further evaluated how the quality of the parenting relationship is associated with mothers' decisions to include or not include the child's father in this study. Finally, this report addresses potential ways in which the genetic counselor may be able to facilitate parental communication regarding the evolving process of disclosure of genetic information to children and adolescents.
BRCA1/2 testing; cancer; family communication; men; children
The purpose of the current study is to examine the moderating influence of the catechol O methyltransferase gene (COMT) on the maternal prenatal smoking/offspring externalizing disorder relationship. The sample consisted of 430 young adults born between 1981 and 1984 at the Mater Misericordiae Mother’s Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, as well as their mothers and peers. Mothers reported their prenatal smoking status during pregnancy, and genetic data was obtained from the youth at a later follow-up in adulthood. The outcome measures in this study were mother and teacher reports of youth attention problems and aggression at age 15, and youth, mother and peer reports of youth attention problems and aggression at age 20 (combined to create latent factors of attention problems and aggression at each age). The COMT Val108/158Met polymorphism (rs4680) significantly interacted with maternal cigarette smoking during pregnancy to predict youth aggressive behavior at ages 15 and 20. This gene-environment interaction was not significant for youth attention problems.
prenatal; smoking; aggression; gene-environment interaction
In the present study, we assess maternal depressive symptoms at the beginning and end of treatment to investigate the possible reciprocal relationship of maternal illness with the child’s depressive illness and treatment.
We present data on 146 children and their mothers who were participating in a pediatric acute treatment study of fluoxetine. Patients were assessed with the Children’s Depression Rating Scale-Revised at baseline and at each treatment visit. Mothers completed the Quick Inventory of Depressive Symptomatology-Self Report at baseline and end of acute treatment.
Thirty percent of mothers had moderate to severe levels of depressive symptoms at the child’s baseline assessment. Overall, mothers reported improvement in maternal depressive symptoms at the end of their child’s acute treatment, although maternal depression was not specifically targeted for intervention. Furthermore, mother’s depressive symptoms appear to be associated with the child’s depression severity both at the beginning and end of treatment. Mothers with higher levels of depressive symptoms had children with higher levels of depression severity at baseline and over the course of treatment. However, maternal depressive symptoms at baseline had no association with the rate of improvement of child depression severity.
This study indicates a positive relationship between the depression severity of mothers and their children. These findings highlight potential areas of intervention in the acute treatment of childhood depression.
maternal depressive symptoms; pediatric depression; acute treatment of pediatric depression
This study examined maternal sadness and adolescents' responses to stress in the offspring (n = 72) of mothers with and without a history of depression. Mothers with a history of depression reported higher levels of current depressive symptoms and exhibited greater sadness during interactions with their adolescent children than mothers without a history of depression. Similarly, adolescent children of mothers with a history of depression experienced higher rates of internalizing and externalizing symptoms than adolescents of mothers without a history of depression. Regression analyses indicated that adolescents' use of secondary control coping mediated the relationship between observed maternal sadness and adolescents' internalizing and externalizing symptoms, in that higher levels of secondary control coping (e.g., cognitive reframing) were related to fewer symptoms. Results have implications for preventive interventions with children of mothers with a history of depression.
The associations between mothers’ part-time employment and mother well-being, parenting, and family functioning were examined using seven waves of the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development data (N = 1,364), infancy through middle childhood. Concurrent comparisons were made between families in which mothers were employed part time and both those in which mothers were not employed and those in which mothers were employed full time. Using multivariate analysis of covariance with extensive controls, results indicated that mothers employed part time had fewer depressive symptoms during the infancy and preschool years and better self-reported health at most time points than did nonemployed mothers. Across the time span studied, mothers working part time tended to report less conflict between work and family than those working full time. During their children’s preschool years, mothers employed part time exhibited more sensitive parenting than did other mothers, and at school age were more involved in school and provided more learning opportunities than mothers employed full time. Mothers employed part time reported doing a higher proportion of child care and housework than mothers employed full time. Part-time employment appears to have some benefits for mothers and families throughout the child-rearing years.
Maternal employment; NICHD SECCYD; part-time; work-family; work hours
Using new methods designed to assess coparenting between incarcerated mothers of preschool-aged children and the maternal grandmothers caring for the children during their absence, we examined relationships between coparenting quality during the mother’s jail stay and both concurrent child behavior problems and later coparenting interactions following mothers’ release and community reentry. Forty mother–grandmother dyads participated in joint coparenting discussions during the incarceration, with a smaller subset completing a parallel activity at home 1 month postrelease. Both women also participated in individual coparenting interviews during the incarceration, and reported on child behavior problems. Mother–grandmother coparenting interactions exhibited an overall structure similar to that documented in nuclear families, with population-specific dynamics also evident. The observational system demonstrated good interrater and internal reliability, and showed associations with maternal (but not grandmother) reports and descriptions of the coparenting relationship via interview. Greater coparenting relationship quality during incarceration was associated with fewer concurrent child externalizing behavior problems, and predicted more positive coparenting interactions postrelease. Findings suggest that the coparenting assessments were useful for under-standing mother–grandmother coparenting relationships in these families and that importantly, these relationships were tied to children’s functioning. Avenues for future research and considerations for intervention efforts are discussed.
Coparenting; Incarcerated Mothers; Grandmothers; Intergenerational Relations; Child Behavior Problems; Family Dynamics
This study assessed the direct relation between young adolescents’ regulated noncompliance and mothers’ democratic childrearing practices as well as the potential mediating role of mothers’ perceived influence during the transition to adolescence.
Three years of self-reported adolescent noncompliance, perceived influence, and parenting democracy were gathered from 166 mothers and their firstborn children (55% female), ages 9 – 11 years at time 1.
Longitudinal path analysis indicated a total effect between adolescents’ regulated noncompliance and higher maternal democracy. In addition, the total effect was mediated by mothers’ perceived influence, such that adolescents’ regulated noncompliance at time 1 was associated with greater perceptions of influence at time 2, which, in turn, was associated with greater maternal democracy at time 3.
Mothers with young adolescents who resist in a relatively mature, regulated manner tend to have more positive perceptions of their influence on their emerging adolescents’ behavior. In turn, mothers expecting to maintain their influence despite normative adolescent resistance are more likely to use democratic parenting strategies, granting their adolescents more input in decisions.
Objective To examine negative affectivity and problem-solving abilities for lone mothers and those who are married/partnered subsequent to a child's diagnosis with cancer. Methods Negative affectivity and problem-solving strategies were assessed for 464 mothers (87 lone and 377 married/partnered) within 2–16 weeks of their child's diagnosis with cancer. Results The two groups of mothers did not differ significantly on measures of perceived posttraumatic stress or problem-solving; lone mothers reported significantly more symptoms of depression. This difference was no longer significant when maternal education was taken into account. Conclusions Negative affectivity and problem-solving abilities were similar for lone mothers and those that are married/partnered shortly after their child has been diagnosed with cancer. Findings are discussed within the context of contemporary strategies to assess marital status as proxy variable for various underlying constructs.
cancer; quality of life; parent stress
This study set out to examine father-related factors predicting maternal physical child abuse risk in a national birth cohort of 1,480 families. In-home and phone interviews were conducted with mothers when index children were 3 years old. Predictor variables included the mother–father relationship status; father demographic, economic, and psychosocial variables; and key background factors. Outcome variables included both observed and self-reported proxies of maternal physical child abuse risk. At the bivariate level, mothers married to fathers were at lower risk for most indicators of maternal physical child abuse. However, after accounting for specific fathering factors and controlling for background variables, multivariate analyses indicated that marriage washed out as a protective factor, and on two of three indicators was linked with greater maternal physical abuse risk. Regarding fathering factors linked with risk, fathers’ higher educational attainment and their positive involvement with their children most discernibly predicted lower maternal physical child abuse risk. Fathers’ economic factors played no observable role in mothers’ risk for physical child maltreatment. Such multivariate findings suggest that marriage per se does not appear to be a protective factor for maternal physical child abuse and rather it may serve as a proxy for other father-related protective factors.
fathers; physical child abuse; marital status; maternal risk
This longitudinal study examined processes that mediate the association between maternal depressive symptoms and peer social preference during the early school years. Three hundred and fifty six kindergarten children (182 boys) and their mothers participated in the study. During kindergarten, mothers reported their level of depressive symptomatology. In first grade, teachers rated children’s emotion regulation at school and observers rated the affective quality of mother-child interactions. During second grade, children’s social preference was assessed by peer nomination. Results indicated that mothers’ level of depressive symptomatology negatively predicted their child’s social preference 2 years later, controlling for the family SES and teacher-rated social preference during kindergarten. Among European American families, the association between maternal depressive symptoms and social preference was partially mediated by maternal warmth and the child’s emotion regulation. Although the relation between maternal depressive symptoms and children peer preference was stronger among African American families than Europrean American families, its mediation by the maternal warmth and child’s emotion regulation was not found in African American families.
Maternal Depressive Symptoms; Emotional Competence; Peer Relations; Parent–Child Interactional Style; Mediation
This study examined whether attachment theory could be used to shed light on the often high degree of discordance between self- and observer-ratings of behavioral functioning and symptomatology. Interview-based assessments of attachment organization, using the Adult Attachment Interview, were examined as predictors of the lack of agreement between self- and other-reports of behavioral and emotional problems among 176 moderately at-risk adolescents. Lack of agreement was measured in terms of concordance of adolescent- and parent- or close friend-report on equivalent measures of behavioral and emotional adjustment. Insecure-dismissing attachment was linked to less agreement in absolute terms between self- and mother-reports of externalizing symptoms, and between adolescent- and close friend-reports of behavioral conduct. Insecure-preoccupied attachment was associated with higher levels of adolescent reporting of internalizing and externalizing symptoms relative to parent-reports of adolescent symptomatology. The findings suggest that attachment organization may be one factor that accounts for individual differences in the degree of discordance between self- and other-reports of symptoms in adolescence.
ATTACHMENT; ADOLESCENCE; REPORTER AGREEMENT; PROBLEM BEHAVIOR
Tobacco smoking during pregnancy is known to adversely affect development of the central nervous system in babies of smoking mothers by restricting utero–placental blood flow and the amount of oxygen available to the fetus. Behavioral data associate maternal smoking with lower verbal scores and poorer performance on specific language/auditory tests.
In the current study we examined the effects of maternal smoking during pregnancy on newborns’ speech processing ability as measured by event-related potentials (ERPs).
High-density ERPs were recorded within 48 hr of birth in healthy newborn infants of smoking (n = 8) and nonsmoking (n = 8) mothers. Participating infants were matched on sex, gestational age, birth weight, Apgar scores, mother’s education, and family income. Smoking during pregnancy was determined by parental self-report and medical records. ERPs were recorded in response to six consonant–vowel syllables presented in random order with equal probability.
Brainwaves of babies of nonsmoking mothers were characterized by typical hemisphere asymmetries, with larger amplitudes over the left hemisphere, especially over temporal regions. Further, infants of nonsmokers discriminated among a greater number of syllables whereas the newborns of smokers began the discrimination process at least 150 msec later and differentiated among fewer stimuli.
Our findings indicate that prenatal exposure to tobacco smoke in otherwise healthy babies is linked with significant changes in brain physiology associated with basic perceptual skills that could place the infant at risk for later developmental problems.
ERP; evoked potentials; newborn; prenatal; smoking; speech
Objective This population-based study examined mothers’ weight-related concerns and behaviors (weight status, weight dissatisfaction, dieting, and encouraging child to diet) at baseline, as assessed by both mothers and adolescents, and associations with adolescents’ body dissatisfaction and weight control practices 5 years later. Methods Adolescents and their mothers (n = 443 pairs) were surveyed in 1998–1999; adolescents were resurveyed in 2003–2004. Results Baseline maternal report of higher levels of her weight-related concerns/behaviors was associated with greater body dissatisfaction in girls 5 years later, controlling for adolescent weight status and other covariates. Baseline maternal report of weight-related concerns/behaviors was also associated with greater prevalence of trying to lose weight in both boys and girls 5 years later. Baseline adolescent report of higher maternal weight-related concerns/behaviors was associated with a higher prevalence of trying to lose weight 5 years later in girls. Conclusions These findings highlight the importance of mothers’ weight-related concerns and behaviors for adolescents’ weight-related outcomes.
body image; dieting; disordered eating; longitudinal; parent; weight loss
To investigate the influence of prospectively-measured smoking during pregnancy on aspects of neonatal behavior in a large, community sample.
Patients and Methods
Participants were mothers and infants from the Providence Cohort of the National Collaborative Perinatal Project enrolled between 1960 and 1966. Mothers with pregnancy/medical complications and infants with medical complications and/or born premature or low birthweight were excluded. The final sample included 962 mother-infant pairs, of whom 23% were African-American. Maternal smoking was measured prospectively at each prenatal visit. Neonatal behavior was assessed using the Graham-Rosenblith Behavioral Examination of the Neonate. Items from the examination were reduced to three subscales: irritability, muscle tone, response to respiratory challenge.
Sixty-two percent of the sample reported smoking during pregnancy with 24% of smokers reporting smoking a pack per day or more. We found a significant influence of maternal smoking exposure (none, moderate/less than a pack per day, heavy/pack a day or more) on irritability and muscle tone in the neonate (p's<.005), with exposed infants showing greater irritability and hypertonicity. Effects remained significant after controlling for significant covariates: maternal socioeconomic status, age and race, and infant birthweight and age (p's<.001). Post hoc tests suggested particular effects of heavy smoking on increased infant irritability, but both moderate and heavy smoking exposure on increased muscle tone.
In a large, community sample, exposure to maternal smoking was associated with increased irritability and hypertonicity in neonates. Exposure to maternal smoking did not influence neonatal response to respiratory challenge. This study is the largest-scale investigation to date of effects of maternal smoking (heavy and moderate) on examiner-assessed neonatal behavior. Given associations between both maternal smoking and infant irritability and later behavioral dysregulation, results have important implications for early identification and intervention with at-risk offspring.
smoking; pregnancy; infant; neonate; behavior; irritability; muscle tone
Background: There are limited data on the associations between maternal or newborn and child exposure to perfluoroalkyl acids (PFAAs), including perfluorooctanoate (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS). This study provides an opportunity to assess the association between PFAA concentrations in mother–child pairs in a population exposed to PFOA via drinking water.
Objectives: We aimed to determine the relationship between mother–child PFAA serum concentrations and to examine how the child:mother ratio varies with child’s age, child’s sex, drinking-water PFOA concentration, reported bottled water use, and mother’s breast-feeding intention.
Methods: We studied 4,943 mother–child pairs (children, 1–19 years of age). The child:mother PFAA ratio was stratified by possible determinants. Results are summarized as geometric mean ratios and correlation coefficients between mother–child pairs, overall and within strata.
Results: Child and mother PFOA and PFOS concentrations were correlated (r = 0.82 and 0.26, respectively). Up to about 12 years of age, children had higher serum PFOA concentrations than did their mothers. The highest child:mother PFOA ratio was found among children ≤ 5 years (44% higher than their mothers), which we attribute to in utero exposure and to exposure via breast milk and drinking water. Higher PFOS concentrations in children persisted until at least 19 years of age (42% higher than their mothers). Boys > 5 years of age had significantly higher PFOA and PFOS child:mother ratios than did girls.
Conclusion: Concentrations of both PFOA and PFOS tended to be higher in children than in their mothers. This difference persisted until they were about 12 years of age for PFOA and at least 19 years of age for PFOS.
mother–child pairs; drinking water; in utero exposure; lactation; Mid-Ohio Valley; PFOA; PFOS; serum concentration
Mothers of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome (FXS) are faced with high levels of parenting stress. The extent to which mothers are negatively impacted by this stress, however, may be influenced by their own genetic status. The present study uses a diathesis-stress model to examine the ways in which a genetic vulnerability in mothers with the premutation of the FMR1 gene interacts with child-related environmental stress to predict their morning cortisol levels. Seventy-six mothers of an adolescent or adult with FXS participated in an 8-day telephone diary study in which they reported on the behavior problems of their son or daughter with FXS each day. We analyzed salivary cortisol collected from mothers at awakening and 30 minutes after awakening on 4 of these days. The results indicated that mothers with greater genetic vulnerability had a lower level of cortisol on mornings following days when their son or daughter with FXS manifested more episodes of behavior problems, whereas mothers with less genetic risk evinced the opposite pattern of higher morning cortisol in response to their child’s behavior problems. This finding contributes to our understanding of gene-by-environment interactions and highlights the importance of interventions to alleviate parenting stress in mothers raising children with FXS.
cortisol; fragile X syndrome; parenting stress