Cortisol reactivity to social stress as a mediator of early adversity on risk and adaptive outcomes.

Journal Article (Journal Article)

Children chronically exposed to stress early in life are at increased risk for maladaptive outcomes, though the physiological mechanisms driving these effects are unknown. Cortisol reactivity was tested as a mediator of the relation between prenatal substance exposure and/or early adversity on adaptive and maladaptive outcomes. Data were drawn from a prospective longitudinal study of prenatal substance exposure (N = 860). Cortisol reactivity was assessed at age 11. Among African Americans, prenatal substance exposure exerted an indirect effect through early adversity and cortisol reactivity to predict externalizing behavior, delinquency, and a positive student-teacher relationship at age 11. Decreased cortisol reactivity was related to maladaptive outcomes, and increased cortisol reactivity predicted better executive functioning and a more positive student-teacher relationship.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Conradt, E; Abar, B; Lester, BM; LaGasse, LL; Shankaran, S; Bada, H; Bauer, CR; Whitaker, TM; Hammond, JA

Published Date

  • 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 85 / 6

Start / End Page

  • 2279 - 2298

PubMed ID

  • 25376131

Pubmed Central ID

  • PMC4236260

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1467-8624

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1111/cdev.12316


  • eng

Conference Location

  • United States