Toronto Metropolitan University
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Maternal Genotypes and Mother-Infant Attachment as Moderators of the Association Between the Early Rearing Environment and Cortisol Secretion

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posted on 2022-11-09, 21:36 authored by Jaclyn Ludmer
Background: This dissertation examines maternal genotypes and mother-infant attachment as moderators of the association between the early rearing environment and cortisol secretion. Study 1 examines whether DRD2, SLC6A3, and OXTR genes moderate the association between maternal history of care and maternal cortisol secretion. Study 2 examines mother-infant attachment as a moderator of the associations between maternal depressive symptoms and both infant and maternal cortisol secretion. Method: Mothers self-reported their history of care and depressive symptoms at infant age 16 months. At 17 months, mother-infant attachment was assessed in the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). Salivary cortisol was assessed at baseline and at 20- and 40-minutes post-SSP. Buccal cells were collected for genotyping. Results: Study 1 revealed that maternal history of low care predicts elevated cortisol secretion, but only for mothers with 10-repeat alleles of SLC6A3 or G alleles of OXTR. Study 2 revealed that maternal depressive symptoms predict elevated cortisol secretion, but only for infants and mothers in non-secure attachment relationships. Conclusions: This dissertation enhances our understanding of the complex relations between the early rearing environment and maternal and infant cortisol secretion.





  • Doctor of Philosophy


  • Psychology

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type

  • Dissertation

Thesis Advisor

Leslie Atkinson