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Child Dev. 1995 Jun;66(3):657-70.

Developmental change in infants' responses to stress.

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Department of Pediatrics, Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, New Brunswick 08903-0019, USA.


Infant stress responses to a well-baby physical examination and inoculation were observed longitudinally at 2, 4, and 6 months of age. In general, there were cortisol increases over base to the procedures. Cortisol level and cortisol response decreased with age. These data indicate a developmental shift in adrenocortical functioning between 2 and 6 months of age. Further evidence for this shift was seen in the stability of individual responses between 4 and 6 months of age. Individual differences in both cortisol and behavioral responses showed the most stability between these 2 ages. Moreover, diurnal variation in baseline cortisol level was present only at 6 months of age. While a sizable minority of infants showed stress-related cortisol decreases to the procedures at a given age, there was no evidence for cross-age consistency in individual infants showing these cortisol decreases.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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