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Parents’ psychological stress over time may affect children’s cortisol at age 8
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences. Östergötlands Läns Landsting, Centre of Paediatrics and Gynecology and Obstetrics, Department of Paediatrics in Linköping.
Linköping University, Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, Pediatrics . Linköping University, Faculty of Health Sciences.
2010 (English)In: Journal of Pediatric Psychology, ISSN 0146-8693, E-ISSN 1465-735X, Vol. 35, no 9, 950-959 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Objective: To study possible relations between parents’ psychological stress, children’s selfesteem and children’s saliva cortisol levels with regard to a mild stressor (drawing a blood sample).

Method: Parenting stress and serious life events at birth, age 1, age 2, age 5 and age 8, and children’s self-esteem at age 8 were assessed. 82 paired saliva samples just before and 30 minutes after a children’s blood was drawn were analyzed.

Results: Repeated measure general linear models indicated a relation between higher parenting stress at age 1 (p=0.03) and at age 8 (p<0.01), and elevated cortisol levels. No relation was found for serious life events. Lack of self-esteem in the domain of mental well-being was related to elevated cortisol levels (p=0.02).

Conclusion: Parenting stress related to elevated cortisol levels of their children cross-sectionally and longitudinally and may be used as an indicator for children’s psychological stress in epidemiological studies.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Oxford University Press , 2010. Vol. 35, no 9, 950-959 p.
Keyword [en]
Parenting stress; serious life events; self-esteem; saliva cortisol; blood sample
National Category
URN: urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-17119DOI: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsp132ISI: 000282843100004OAI: diva2:202006
This is a pre-copy-editing, author-produced PDF of an article accepted for publication in Journal of Pediatric Psychology following peer review. The definitive publisher-authenticated version: Felix-Sebastian Koch, Johnny Ludvigsson and Anneli Sepa, Parents’ psychological stress over time may affect children’s cortisol at age 8, 2010, Journal of Pediatric Psychology, (35), 9, 950-959. is available online at: Copyright: Oxford University Press Available from: 2009-03-06 Created: 2009-03-06 Last updated: 2010-11-04Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Stress and Obesity in Childhood
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Stress and Obesity in Childhood
2009 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Alternative title[sv]
Stress och fetma i barndomen
Abstract [en]

Childhood obesity is a serious health problem and prevalence increases dramatically around the world, including Sweden. The aim of the current thesis was to examine parents’ and children’s stress in relation to childhood obesity. Parenting stress, social support, parental worries, and serious life events, as well as children’s temperament, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, saliva cortisol, weight and height were measured to estimate stress and the relation between stress and childhood obesity. Data was collected as part of the cohort project All Babies in Southeast Sweden (ABIS) which main aim is to understand the causes of Type 1 Diabetes. All 21700 children born between October 1997 and October 1999 in Southeast Sweden and their parents were invited to participate and questionnaires were completed for 16070 children at birth. Questionnaires were then collected at follow-ups at 1 year (N=11078), at 2-3 years (N=8803), at 5-6 years (N=7443), and at 8 years (N=3959). The main findings were a relation between parents’ psychological stress and lower self-esteem of children, a relation between parenting stress and higher cortisol levels of children, and a relation between children’s body dissatisfaction and lower self-esteem. Another main finding was a relation between cumulative psychological stress and an increased prevalence of childhood obesity. The current thesis summarized these results, found good validity of the instruments, and the analyses did not indicate any systematic attrition due to stress. It is concluded that the psychological variables reported by parents can be used as proxies for children’s experience of stress in epidemiological studies such as ABIS, and that psychological stress seems to be a contributing factor in childhood obesity. This relation needs to be studied further in order to better understand and intervene in the current epidemic of childhood obesity. These findings may also help to better examine if psychological stress and childhood obesity are contributing factors in the etiology of Type 1 Diabetes.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Linköping: Linköping University Electronic Press, 2009. 85 p.
Linköping University Medical Dissertations, ISSN 0345-0082 ; 1100
Psychological stress, parents, children, obesity, self-esteem, body dissatisfaction, epidemiology
National Category
urn:nbn:se:liu:diva-16926 (URN)978-91-7393-697-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2009-03-13, Berzeliussalen, Campus US, ingång 65, Linköpings universitet, Linköping, 09:00 (English)
Alla Barn i Sydöstra Sverige - ABIS
Available from: 2009-03-06 Created: 2009-02-25 Last updated: 2009-08-21Bibliographically approved

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