Individual differences in early adolescents' latent trait cortisol (LTC): Relation to early adversity

Catherine B. Stroud, Frances R. Chen, Leah D. Doane, Douglas A. Granger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Substantial evidence suggests that youth who experience early adversity exhibit alterations in hypothalamic pituitary adrenal (HPA) axis functioning, thereby increasing risk for negative health outcomes. However, few studies have explored whether early adversity alters enduring trait indicators of HPA axis activity. Using objective contextual stress interviews with adolescents and their mothers to assess early adversity, we examined the cumulative impact of nine types of early adversity on early adolescents girls' latent trait cortisol (LTC). Adolescents (n=122; M age=12.39 years) provided salivary cortisol samples three times a day (waking, 30min post-waking, and bedtime) over 3 days. Latent state-trait modeling indicated that the waking and 30min post-waking samples contributed to a LTC factor. Moreover, greater early adversity was associated with a lower LTC level. Implications of LTC for future research examining the impact of early adversity on HPA axis functioning are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalDevelopmental Psychobiology
StateAccepted/In press - 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adolescence
  • Diurnal cortisol
  • Early adversity
  • Hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis
  • Salivary cortisol
  • Trait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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