Association between maternal childhood maltreatment and mother-infant attachment disorganization: Moderation by maternal oxytocin receptor gene and cortisol secretion

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Abstract

This study examined maternal oxytocin receptor (OXTR, rs53576) genotype and cortisol secretion as moderators of the relation between maternal childhood maltreatment history and disorganized mother-infant attachment in the Strange Situation Procedure (SSP). A community sample of 314 mother-infant dyads completed the SSP at infant age 17 months. Self-reported maltreatment history more strongly predicted mother-infant attachment disorganization score and disorganized classification for mothers with more plasticity alleles of OXTR (G), relative to mothers with fewer plasticity alleles. Maltreatment history also more strongly predicted mother-infant attachment disorganization score and classification for mothers with higher SSP cortisol secretion, relative to mothers with lower SSP cortisol secretion. Findings indicate that maltreatment history is related to disorganization in the next generation, but that this relation depends on maternal genetic characteristics and cortisol.

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