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

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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


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, 30 min post-waking, and bedtime) over 3 days. Latent state-trait modeling indicated that the waking and 30 min 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)
Pages (from-to)700-713
Number of pages14
JournalDevelopmental psychobiology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Sep 1 2016


  • adolescence
  • diurnal cortisol
  • early adversity
  • hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis
  • salivary cortisol
  • trait

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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