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Maternal Genotypes and Mother-Infant Attachment as Moderators of the Association Between the Early Rearing Environment and Cortisol Secretion

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posted on 09.11.2022, 21:36 authored by Jaclyn Ludmer
Background: This dissertation examines maternal genotypes and mother-infant attachment as moderators of the association between the early rearing environment and cortisol secretion. Study 1 examines whether DRD2, SLC6A3, and OXTR genes moderate the association between maternal history of care and maternal cortisol secretion. Study 2 examines mother-infant attachment as a moderator of the associations between maternal depressive symptoms and both infant and maternal cortisol secretion. Method: Mothers self-reported their history of care and depressive symptoms at infant age 16 months. At 17 months, mother-infant attachment was assessed in the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). Salivary cortisol was assessed at baseline and at 20- and 40-minutes post-SSP. Buccal cells were collected for genotyping. Results: Study 1 revealed that maternal history of low care predicts elevated cortisol secretion, but only for mothers with 10-repeat alleles of SLC6A3 or G alleles of OXTR. Study 2 revealed that maternal depressive symptoms predict elevated cortisol secretion, but only for infants and mothers in non-secure attachment relationships. Conclusions: This dissertation enhances our understanding of the complex relations between the early rearing environment and maternal and infant cortisol secretion.





Doctor of Philosophy



Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type


Thesis Advisor

Leslie Atkinson