The contribution of childhood adversity to cortisol measures of early life stress amongst infants in rural India: findings from the early life stress sub-study of the SPRING cluster randomised controlled trial (SPRING-ELS)

Bhopal, Sunil and Verma, Deepali and Roy, Reetabrata and Soremekun, Seyi and Kumar, Divya and Bristow, Matt and Bhanushali, Aparna and Divan, Gauri and Kirkwood, Betty (2019) The contribution of childhood adversity to cortisol measures of early life stress amongst infants in rural India: findings from the early life stress sub-study of the SPRING cluster randomised controlled trial (SPRING-ELS). Psychoneuroendocrinology, 107. pp. 241-250. ISSN 1873-3360

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psyneuen.2019.05.012

Abstract

Background: The majority of the world’s children live in low- and middle-income countries and face multiple obstacles to optimal wellbeing. The mechanisms by which adversities – social, cultural, psychological, environmental, economic – get ‘under the skin’ in the early days of life and become biologically embedded remain an important line of enquiry. We therefore examined the contribution of childhood adversity through pregnancy and the first year of life to hair and salivary cortisol measures of early life stress in the India SPRING home visits cluster RCT which aims to improve early childhood development. Methods: We assessed 22 adversities across four domains: socioeconomic, maternal stress, family-child relationship, and child and summed them to make a cumulative adversity score & quintiles, and four subscale scores. We cut 3 cm of hair from the posterior vertex and took three saliva samples from morning till late afternoon on each of two days (total six samples). We analysed both for cortisol concentration using ELISA techniques. We used multiple linear regression techniques to assess the relationship between cumulative adversity and log hair cortisol concentration and saliva diurnal slope and area under the curve. Results: We assessed 712 children for hair, and 752 children for saliva cortisol at 12 months of age. We found a strong positive relationship between adversity and hair cortisol; each additional adversity factor was associated with hair cortisol increases of 6.1% (95% CI 2.8, 9.4, p < 0.001) and the increase from adversity quintile one to five was 59.4%. Socioeconomic, relationship and child scales were independent predictors of hair cortisol (socioeconomic 6.4% (95% CI -0.4, 13.6); relationship 11.8% (95% CI 1.4, 23.2); child 7.9% (95% CI -0.5, 16.9). We did not find any association between any measures of adversity and either of the saliva cortisol outcomes. Discussion: This is the largest study of hair cortisol in young children, and the first in a low- and middle-income country setting. Whilst the short-term diurnal measures of cortisol did not appear to be linked with adversity, chronic exposure over several months appears to be strongly associated with cumulative adversity. These findings should spur further work to understand the specific ways in which adversity becomes biologically embedded, and how this can be tackled. They also lend support to ongoing action to tackle childhood adversity in communities around the world.

Item Type: Journal Article
Keywords: Infant, Child, Adversity, Adverse childhood experiences, Stress, HPA axis, Cortisol
Faculty: ARCHIVED Faculty of Science & Technology (until September 2018)
SWORD Depositor: Symplectic User
Depositing User: Symplectic User
Date Deposited: 07 Jun 2019 11:45
Last Modified: 14 Nov 2019 16:07
URI: http://arro.anglia.ac.uk/id/eprint/704391

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