The current study assessed the associations between pandemic-related stressors and physiological stress, as indexed by hair cortisol concentration (HCC), for mothers and their children (N = 180) aged 5–14-years old (M = 8.91). The associations between maternal HCC and children's HCC and children's behavioral adjustment were also examined. Mothers reported on COVID-19-related behaviors and children's adjustment, and both mother and child participants collected and mailed hair samples between August and November of 2020. Results indicated that higher maternal HCC was correlated with living in a more urban environment, job loss, working from home, exposure to pandemic-related news, and social isolation. Child HCC was correlated with family job loss and social isolation. Mother HCC and child HCC were significantly associated, and this association was moderated by child age; younger children's HCC was more strongly associated with mothers’ HCC than older children's HCC. Finally, maternal HCC was associated with greater child internalizing symptoms, but was not associated with children's externalizing symptoms. Child HCC was not associated with child behavior.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors would like to thank the participating families for their time. A special thanks to Boa Moua, Morgan Bilz, Salah Mirza, and Priya Kanajam for their help in collecting these data. This research was supported by an internal grant from the Clinical and Translational Science Institute at the University of Minnesota. The authors would also like to thank Dr. Megan Gunnar for additional financial support that allowed us to collect data from more families.
© 2021 The Authors
PubMed: MeSH publication types
- Journal Article
- Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't