Document Detail

Postnatal maternal cortisol levels predict temperament in healthy breastfed infants.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  17336002     Owner:  NLM     Status:  MEDLINE    
BACKGROUND: The implications of the biologically active elements in breast milk for the breastfed infant are largely unknown. Animal models suggest that ingestion of glucocorticoids during the neonatal period influences fear behavior and modifies brain development.
AIMS: To determine the association between postnatal maternal cortisol levels and temperament in breastfed infants.
STUDY DESIGN: The relation between maternal cortisol and infant temperament was examined in breastfed and formula-fed infants. Plasma cortisol was used as a surrogate measure for breast milk cortisol levels (plasma and milk levels are correlated in the 0.6 to 0.7 range; [Patacchioli FR, Cigliana G, Cilumbriello A, Perrone G, Capri O, Alemà GS, et al. Maternal plasma and milk free cortisol during the first 3 days of breast-feeding following spontaneous delivery or elective cesarean section. Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigations 1992;34:159-163.]. If exposure to elevated cortisol levels during infancy influences temperament, then a relation between the two should be found among the breastfed infants, but not among the formula-fed infants.
SUBJECTS: Two hundred fifty-three two-month-old infants and their mothers.
OUTCOME MEASURES: Fearful temperament assessed with the Infant Behavior Questionnaire [Garstein MR, Rothbart MK. Studying infant temperament via the revised infant behavior questionnaire. Infant Behavior and Development 2003;26:64-86].
RESULTS: Among the breastfed infants, higher maternal cortisol levels were associated with reports of increased infant fear behavior (partial r=0.2; p<0.01). This relation did not exist among the formula-fed infants. Negative maternal affect at the time of assessment did not account for the positive association in the breastfed group.
CONCLUSIONS: The findings are consistent with our proposal that exposure to cortisol in breast milk influences infant temperament. Biologically active components in breast milk may represent one avenue through which the mother shapes the development of the human infant during the postnatal period.
Laura M Glynn; Elysia Poggi Davis; Christine Dunkel Schetter; Aleksandra Chicz-Demet; Calvin J Hobel; Curt A Sandman
Publication Detail:
Type:  Journal Article; Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural     Date:  2007-02-28
Journal Detail:
Title:  Early human development     Volume:  83     ISSN:  0378-3782     ISO Abbreviation:  Early Hum. Dev.     Publication Date:  2007 Oct 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2007-10-15     Completed Date:  2008-03-17     Revised Date:  2014-09-17    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  7708381     Medline TA:  Early Hum Dev     Country:  Ireland    
Other Details:
Languages:  eng     Pagination:  675-81     Citation Subset:  IM    
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MeSH Terms
Breast Feeding*
Child Development* / drug effects
Hydrocortisone / administration & dosage,  blood*
Infant, Newborn
Milk, Human* / chemistry
Temperament* / drug effects
Grant Support
Reg. No./Substance:

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