Maternal sensitivity during infancy and the regulation of startle in preschoolers.

Authors:
Jessica L Borelli
Jessica L Borelli
Pomona College
United States
Hui Min Tan
Hui Min Tan
Karolinska Institute
Sweden
Lit Wee Sim
Lit Wee Sim
Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences
Singapore
Shamini Sanmugam
Shamini Sanmugam
Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences
Singapore
Kok Hian Tan
Kok Hian Tan
KK Women's and Children's Hospital
Singapore
Yap Seng Chong
Yap Seng Chong
Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences
Singapore

Attach Hum Dev 2018 Nov 8:1-18. Epub 2018 Nov 8.

a Singapore Institute for Clinical Sciences (SICS) , Agency for Science and Technology (A*STAR) , Singapore.

Caregiving insensitivity and fear dysregulation predict anxiety symptoms in children. It is unclear, however, whether sensitive parental care during infancy predicts fear regulation later in childhood. To address this question, we asked whether observed maternal sensitivity, measured at 6 months, predicts 42-month-old children's laboratory-induced fear responses (n=213) during a fear-eliciting episode. We predicted that higher levels of maternal sensitivity would be associated with greater fear regulation. We operationalized fear regulation as decreases in fear over repeated trials of a novel, potentially frightening, stimulus. Two aspects of fear responses were considered: expressed fear and startle. Expressed fear scores did not decrease over time but children exhibited less startle behavior in the second half of the task. Maternal sensitivity predicted this startle attenuation across trials. These findings highlight the contribution of maternal sensitivity during infancy to the development of fear regulation in early childhood, further suggesting its influence on offspring anxiety problems.

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Source
https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/14616734.2018.1
Publisher Site
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/14616734.2018.1542737DOI Listing
November 2018
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