Maternal DRD2, SLC6A3, and OXTR genotypes as potential moderators of the relation between maternal history of care and maternal cortisol secretion in the context of mother-infant separation
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A mother's cortisol secretion is importantly associated with her own mental health and her infant's cortisol secretion. This study investigated the influences of maternal history of care and maternal DRD2, SLC6A3, and OXTR genotypes on maternal cortisol in the context of infant stress. A community sample of 296 mother-infant dyads completed a maternal separation at infant age 17 months. Maternal salivary cortisol, buccal cells, and self-reported history of care were collected. Multilevel models revealed that history of care had a greater influence on maternal baseline cortisol (but not cortisol trajectory) for mothers with more plasticity alleles of SLC6A3 (10R) and OXTR (G), relative to mothers with fewer or no plasticity alleles. Findings indicate that a mother's history of care is related to her cortisol secretion in anticipation of infant stress, but that this relation depends on her genetic characteristics. Findings are discussed in relation to the maternal protective system and anticipatory cortisol secretion.
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