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Infant autonomic nervous system response and recovery: Associations with maternal risk status and infant emotion regulation

Suurland, Jill, van der Heijden, Kristiaan B., Smaling, Hanneke J. A., Huijbregts, Stephan C. J., van Goozen, Stephanie H. M. and Swaab, Hanna 2017. Infant autonomic nervous system response and recovery: Associations with maternal risk status and infant emotion regulation. Development and Psychopathology 29 (3) , pp. 759-773. 10.1017/S0954579416000456

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This study examined whether risk status and cumulative risk were associated with autonomic nervous system reactivity and recovery, and emotion regulation in infants. The sample included 121 6-month-old infants. Classification of risk status was based on World Health Organization criteria (e.g., presence of maternal psychopathology, substance use, and social adversity). Heart rate, parasympathetic respiratory sinus arrhythmia, and sympathetic preejection period were examined at baseline and across the still face paradigm. Infant emotion regulation was coded during the still face paradigm. Infants in the high-risk group showed increased heart rate, parasympathetic withdrawal, and sympathetic activation during recovery from the still face episode. Higher levels of cumulative risk were associated with increased sympathetic nervous system activation. Moreover, increased heart rate during recovery in the high-risk group was mediated by both parasympathetic and sympathetic activity, indicating mobilization of sympathetic resources when confronted with socioemotional challenge. Distinct indirect pathways were observed from maternal risk to infant emotion regulation during the still face paradigm through parasympathetic and sympathetic regulation. These findings underline the importance of specific measures of parasympathetic and sympathetic response and recovery, and indicate that maternal risk is associated with maladaptive regulation of stress early in life reflecting increased risk for later psychopathology.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Psychology
Additional Information: This article was (co-)authored by Cardiff NDAU researchers. PDF uploaded in accordance with publisher's policies (accessed 18.08.16).
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
ISSN: 0954-5794
Funders: Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) Grant 056-23-001
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 9 August 2016
Date of Acceptance: 21 April 2016
Last Modified: 07 Dec 2020 17:22

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