The hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis plays an important role in adaptation to stress, but is vulnerable to chronic stress exposure. Parental problem drinking (PPD) represents such a chronic stressor, but there has been little research on children’s HPA axis activity in the context of PPD. To address this gap, associations between PPD and children’s adrenocortical reactivity were examined, with marital aggression and child emotional security as potential intervening variables. Participants were 69 community families (children aged 6–12 years). Children provided saliva samples before and 20 min after a social stress test, which were assayed for cortisol. Parents reported on their problem drinking (PD) and marital aggression, and children reported on their emotional insecurity about the marital relationship. Mother PD was significantly related to greater adrenocortical reactivity in her offspring. Father PD was significantly related to children’s greater involvement in marital conflict, which was significantly related to greater adrenocortical reactivity. Findings therefore indicate that parental PD is related to greater sensitivity of the HPA axis to social stress, partially because of emotional insecurity.
|Number of pages||9|
|Journal||Journal of Child and Family Studies|
|State||Published - Oct 13 2015|
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This study was partially funded by the University of Kentucky Center for Research on Violence Against Women. Support was also provided by Grant Numbers UL1RR033173 [TL1 RR033172, KL2 RR033171] from the National Center for Research Resources (NCRR), funded by the Office of the Director, National Institutes of Health (NIH) and supported by the NIH Roadmap for Medical Research.
© 2015, Springer Science+Business Media New York.
- Emotional insecurity
- Family stress
- Hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal axis
- Marital aggression
- Problem drinking
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Life-span and Life-course Studies