Background: Mothers with borderline personality disorder (BPD) often show altered emotional availability toward their own child and heightened stress vulnerability. The aims of the present study were (1) to examine total cortisol output in saliva during mother-child interaction in mothers with BPD and their children and (2) to test whether maternal nonhostility as a subscale of emotional availability mediates the relationship between maternal BPD and child total cortisol output. Methods: We investigated 16 mothers with BPD and 30 healthy control mothers (HC) and 29 children of mothers with BPD and 33 children of HC mothers. Children were between 5 and 12 years old. Salivary cortisol was collected prior to and twice after an episode of a 21-min standardized play situation between mother and child. Nonhostility was rated using the emotional availability scales. Analyses of covariance were computed to test for group differences in total cortisol output (measured with area under the curve with respect to ground). Pearson's correlation was calculated to test the association between maternal and child total cortisol output. To test the second question, a mediation analysis according to Preacher and Hayes was conducted. Results: Mothers with BPD and their children had lower total cortisol output. Maternal and child total cortisol output was significantly correlated. Contrary to our hypothesis, maternal nonhostility did not mediate the relationship between BPD and child total cortisol output. Conclusion: Results imply that the hormonal stress activity of mothers with BPD and their children is altered, which may reflect modified stress regulation and stress vulnerability in mother and child and may impact on mother-child interaction. The finding of a positive association between mother's and child total cortisol output could indicate an intergenerational transmission of these alterations.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Accepted/In press - 2022|
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Clinical Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health