Cortisol response to behavior problems in FMR1 premutation mothers of adolescents and adults with fragile X syndrome: A diathesis-stress model

Sigan L. Hartley, Marsha Mailick Seltzer, Jinkuk Hong, Jan S. Greenberg, Leann Smith, David Almeida, Chris Coe, Leonard J Abbeduto

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

36 Scopus citations

Abstract

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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)53-61
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Development
Volume36
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2012
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Cortisol
  • Fragile X syndrome
  • Parenting stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology

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