Neuroendocrine and autonomic stress systems activity in young adults raised by mothers with mental health and substance abuse problems: A prospective cohort study

Olga V. Burenkova, Aleksei A. Podturkin, Oksana Yu Naumova, Sascha Hein, Nan Li, Dante Cicchetti, Suniya S. Luthar, Elena L. Grigorenko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Among the well-known physiological consequences of early adverse environments is dysregulation of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis. A number of studies demonstrate that negative parenting and living with parents with a history of substance abuse and mental health problems may be associated with HPA axis dysregulation in children. In contrast, studies of more delayed effects in adult offspring, especially prospective, are still scarce. This study was a prospective longitudinal investigation of the association between maternal mental illnesses/substance abuse and maternal negative parenting/parental stress on one side and, on the other side, adult offspring outcomes 10 years later—specifically, we studied the activity of offspring's neuroendocrine (cortisol) and autonomic (heart rate) systems when exposed to a mild psychological stressor. Children of mothers with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse were exposed to more disadvantaged conditions (higher negative parenting and community violence). Despite this, maternal risk groups (having a mother with mental illnesses and/or substance abuse) were not associated with any of the indicators of stress systems activity. Regardless of the risk group, participants with dysregulated HPA axis activity experienced a higher level of negative parenting. Altogether, our study provides evidence that negative parenting may have long-lasting effects on stress-sensitive physiological mechanisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere22213
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by awards from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (R01 DA010726, PI: Suniya Luthar), from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) to the University of Houston, for the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities (P50HD052117, PI: Jack Fletcher), and the award from the Ministry of Higher Education and Science of the Russian Federation (14.Z50.31.0027, PI: Elena Grigorenko). We are grateful to Ms. Mei Tan for her editorial support.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Wiley Periodicals LLC.


  • affective/anxiety disorders
  • cortisol
  • heart rate
  • human
  • negative parenting
  • stress
  • substance abuse

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't


Dive into the research topics of 'Neuroendocrine and autonomic stress systems activity in young adults raised by mothers with mental health and substance abuse problems: A prospective cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this