Caregiver and Young Child Biological Attunement In Distress Contexts: A Systematic Review and Narrative Synthesis Academic Article uri icon

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  • The objective of the current study was to systematically review the literature on caregiver-child biological attunement within distress contexts during the first three years of life. A total of 9932 unique abstracts were identified through Medline, Embase, PsycINFO, CINAHL, and Scopus databases. Thirty-six studies provided data from caregivers and their infants or toddlers within a distress paradigm, used biological indicators of distress, and assessed the relations between caregiver and child biological indicators. Findings were synthesized based on biological indicators, type of analysis, and measurement epochs pre- and post-distress. Most articles examined cortisol. Associations between caregiver and child cortisol indicators were moderate to large, though findings varied depending on the analysis used and measurement epochs examined. Many of the findings examining relations between mother and child cardiac, sAA, and EEG indicators were weak or inconsistent, likely due to the limitations of methodological approaches used to capture the complexity of the caregiver-child attunement process. Gaps in the literature and suggestions for future research are discussed.


  • Di Lorenzo, Miranda G
  • Bucsea, Oana
  • Rumeo, Carla
  • Waxman, Jordana A
  • Flora, David B
  • Schmidt, Louis
  • Riddell, Rebecca Pillai

publication date

  • January 2022