The Rise in cortisol in family day care: Associations with aspects of care quality, child behavior, and child sex

Megan R. Gunnar, Erin Kryzer, Mark J. Van Ryzin, Deborah A. Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations

Abstract

This study examined the increase in salivary cortisol from midmorning to midafternoon in 151 children (3.0-4.5 years) in full-time home-based day care. Compared to cortisol levels at home, increases were noted in the majority of children (63%) at day care, with 40% classified as a stress response. Observations at day care revealed that intrusive, overcontrolling care was associated with the cortisol rise. For girls, the cortisol rise was associated with anxious, vigilant behavior, while for boys the rise was associated with angry, aggressive behavior. Child behavior did not mediate or moderate relations between care quality and the cortisol rise, except for evidence that boys scoring low on angry, aggressive behavior were more sensitive to variations in warm, supportive care than boys scoring high on this behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)851-869
Number of pages19
JournalChild development
Volume81
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2010

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