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Aging Ment Health. 2012;16(8):939-49. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2012.688191. Epub 2012 May 29.

Stressful life events and daily stressors affect awakening cortisol level in midlife mothers of individuals with autism spectrum disorders.

Author information

1
Waisman Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA. jwong@waisman.wisc.edu

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

The current study examines the awakening cortisol level in midlife mothers (M = 51.4 years old, SD = 8.4) of individuals (M = 22.1 years old, SD = 7.1) with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) under stressful conditions that are not specific to their son or daughter's ASD symptoms.

METHODS:

In addition to completing a set of questionnaires and in-home interviews, 82 mothers from the Adolescents and Adults with Autism Study (AAA) participated in a Daily Diary Study.

RESULTS:

Findings from the multilevel models indicated that mothers who previously were exposed to no negative life events in the previous period had an increased awakening cortisol level on days following a greater number and more severe stressors, a normative stress response. In contrast, we observed a flatter cortisol level of daily stressors in mothers who experienced a greater number of negative life events in the previous period.

CONCLUSION:

These findings highlight the sustained toll that global and everyday stressors have on awakening cortisol level of midlife and aging mothers of individuals with ASD.

PMID:
22640177
PMCID:
PMC3434247
DOI:
10.1080/13607863.2012.688191
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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