Increased levels of inflammation among infants with disorganized histories of attachment

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Abstract

Early life adversity is associated with adult elevations of inflammatory markers such as circulating levels of C-reactive protein (CRP). Few studies have examined inflammation levels during infancy nor the associations between sources of adversity and concurrent inflammation early in life. Existing evidence suggests that early adversity in the form of compromised caregiving relationships can embed itself into young children’s biology with implications for lifelong development. This study examined the association between infants’ histories of attachment with their mothers and salivary concentrations of CRP, all of which were assessed when infants were 17 months of age. Results show that infants with disorganized attachments histories and those exhibiting disorganized and avoidant regulatory behaviors when faced with an attachment stressor were all associated with significantly elevated levels of salivary CRP. These results suggest that exposure to significant interpersonal adversity very early in life may engender a proinflamotry phenotype with life-long implications for health.

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