Cortisol concentrations in 12- to 18-month-old infants: Stability over time, location, and stressor

Susan Goldberg, Robert Levitan, Eman Leung, Mario Masellis, Vincenzo S. Basile, Charles Nemeroff, Leslie Atkinson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

68 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background: Sparse information on early development of hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis responsivity in human infants limits our understanding of stress hormone regulation and vulnerability to psychopathology. We considered whether infant cortisol stress response (CSR) is a suitable endocrine phenotype for developmental stress research. Methods: We assessed stability of key CSR parameters across time, location, and stressor through saliva samples taken before and then 20 and 40 min following exposure to two stressors administered 1 week apart in 27 infants aged 12 to 18 months. Time-matched home samples were collected to control for circadian rhythm and to evaluate baseline stability. Results: Baseline cortisol concentrations, peak percent change, and area under the curve (AUC) were stable across time and stressors. Following both stressors, half the infants exhibited peak cortisol concentrations at 20 min poststress; half peaked at 40 min poststress. For 56% of the infants, peak response time was inconsistent across stressors. Conclusions: In humans, baseline and CSR are stable by 12 to 18 months. Variation in CSR time course across stressors indicates that infant CSR should be sampled beyond 30 min. Results support using infant CSR, particularly as measured by AUC, as a valid endocrine phenotype for developmental stress research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)719-726
Number of pages8
JournalBiological Psychiatry
Volume54
Issue number7
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2003
Externally publishedYes

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Hydrocortisone
Reaction Time
Area Under Curve
Phenotype
Circadian Rhythm
Psychopathology
Saliva
Research
Hormones

Keywords

  • Cortisol stress response
  • Infants

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biological Psychiatry

Cite this

Cortisol concentrations in 12- to 18-month-old infants : Stability over time, location, and stressor. / Goldberg, Susan; Levitan, Robert; Leung, Eman; Masellis, Mario; Basile, Vincenzo S.; Nemeroff, Charles; Atkinson, Leslie.

In: Biological Psychiatry, Vol. 54, No. 7, 01.10.2003, p. 719-726.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Goldberg, Susan ; Levitan, Robert ; Leung, Eman ; Masellis, Mario ; Basile, Vincenzo S. ; Nemeroff, Charles ; Atkinson, Leslie. / Cortisol concentrations in 12- to 18-month-old infants : Stability over time, location, and stressor. In: Biological Psychiatry. 2003 ; Vol. 54, No. 7. pp. 719-726.
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