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Simons, S.S.H.; Cillessen, A.H.N.; Weerth, C. de (2017)
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mesheuropmc: hormones, hormone substitutes, and hormone antagonists, endocrine system
Hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning is characterized by the baseline production of cortisol following a circadian rhythm, as well as by the superimposed production of cortisol in response to a stressor. However, it is relatively unknown whether the basal cortisol circadian rhythm is associated with the cortisol stress response in children. Since alterations in cortisol stress responses have been associated with mental and physical health, this study investigated whether the cortisol circadian rhythm is associated with cortisol stress responses in 6-year-old children. To this end 149 normally developing children (Mage = 6.09 years; 70 girls) participated in an innovative social evaluative stress test that effectively provoked increases in cortisol. To determine the cortisol stress response, 6 cortisol saliva samples were collected and 2 cortisol stress response indices were calculated: total stress cortisol and cortisol stress reactivity. To determine children's cortisol circadian rhythm 8 cortisol circadian samples were collected during 2 days. Total diurnal cortisol and diurnal cortisol decline scores were calculated as indices of the cortisol circadian rhythm. Hierarchical regression analyses indicated that higher total diurnal cortisol, as well as a smaller diurnal cortisol decline, were both uniquely associated with higher total stress cortisol. No associations were found between the cortisol circadian rhythm indices and cortisol stress reactivity. Possible explanations for the patterns found are links with children's self-regulatory capacities and parenting quality.

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