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Low salivary cortisol levels in infants of families with an anthroposophic lifestyle
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Neuroscience.
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2010 (English)In: Psychoneuroendocrinology, ISSN 0306-4530, E-ISSN 1873-3360, Vol. 35, no 10, 1431-1437 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The anthroposophic lifestyle implies environmental conditions for the infant aimed at reducing negative stress stimulation and is also related to a lower prevalence of allergic diseases in children. One aim of this prospective birth cohort study was to assess stress levels in infants with an anthroposophic lifestyle. A total of 330 infants from families with anthroposophic or more conventional lifestyles were followed from pregnancy of their mothers until the age of 6 months. Information on lifestyle factors was obtained from questionnaires. Salivary samples from 210 6-month olds and their parents were collected on three occasions during 1 day for analysis of cortisol. Infants from families with an anthroposophic lifestyle had significantly lower cortisol levels on all three sampling occasions compared to other infants. In the morning, the geometric means of salivary cortisol concentration (with 95% confidence limits) were 8.8 nmol/l (6.7-11.5), 11.3 nmol/l (9.3-13.7) and 14.9 nmol/l (11.3-19.6) in infants classified as anthroposophic, partly anthroposophic and non-anthroposophic, respectively (p = 0.018). On the other hand, there was no difference in cortisol levels between the parents in the different groups. Several lifestyle factors differed significantly between the groups, but none of them independently explained the difference in cortisol levels. However, living on a farm during pregnancy was significantly associated with low saliva cortisol level in the infant. It can be concluded that low salivary cortisol levels in infants from anthroposophic families may be related to an environment with a lower degree of exposure to stress, which could influence the development of allergic diseases.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Elsevier, 2010. Vol. 35, no 10, 1431-1437 p.
Keyword [en]
Cortisol, HPA-axis, Stress, Children, Lifestyle, Environment
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-221407DOI: 10.1016/j.psyneuen.2010.05.010ISI: 000284517600002PubMedID: 20580492OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-221407DiVA: diva2:709025
Available from: 2014-03-31 Created: 2014-03-31 Last updated: 2017-12-05Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Allergy, Stress and Sense of Coherence in Families with Children living in accordance with an Anthroposophic Lifestyle
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Allergy, Stress and Sense of Coherence in Families with Children living in accordance with an Anthroposophic Lifestyle
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Background: Previous studies on anthroposophic lifestyle and allergy show that the children have less risk of developing allergies. All studies so far have been retrospective and have included children in school age. In view of the facts that this lifestyle seems to protect children from allergies and that different symptoms of atopy have increased dramatically during the last decades it is of general interest to study this group of children more in detail. The earlier findings have now been followed up in a prospective research program ALADDIN (Assessment of Life style and Allergic Disease During Infancy), applying different approaches. One of these is to focus on stress (as measured by cortisol) as a factor that may underlie the decreased risk of allergy in children from anthroposophic families.  

Aim: This thesis is based on data from the ALADDIN study focusing on influence of family lifestyle on allergy sensitization early in children’s life in relation to psychosocial factors and salivary cortisol as an indicator of stress.

Methods: A total of 552 families were recruited during pregnancy or during the first month of the child´s life in two recruitment waves, 330 families between September 2004 and November 2007 and another 222 families between March 2008 and January 2011. They were recruited at anthroposophic maternal and child health care centers (MCHC) and from conventional MCHCs.  Data on demographics and exposures were obtained by questionnaires and interviews. Parental capacity to adapt to stressors was evaluated by means of the questionnaire “Sense of Coherence” (SOC; Antonovsky). Salivary samples were collected at home from the infants and both parents for analyzes of cortisol. Blood samples were obtained from the parents and from the children for analyzes of IgE.

Results: Many family related characteristics differed markedly between the groups before and during pregnancy, during delivery and the first 12 months of age. Children from anthroposophic families had lower levels of salivary cortisol compared to peers from families with a more conventional lifestyle on all sampling occasions at 6 months of age and on some of the occasions at 12 and 24 months of age. There were no differences concerning cortisol between parents with different lifestyle and no significant differences concerning SOC-scores between the three lifestyle groups. An anthroposophic lifestyle was associated with a lower risk of allergic sensitization up to five years of age. This risk was partially explained by lower cortisol levels during infancy. Children in families with a partly anthroposophic lifestyle also had substantially lower risk of sensitization.

Conclusion: An anthroposophic lifestyle protects from development of allergy during childhood, at least up to five years of age. This protective capacity is partly mediated by low cortisol levels during infancy but is also dependent on unknown characteristics of this lifestyle.  These results call for further studies on health related effects of an anthroposophic lifestyle.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2014. 58 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 992
Keyword
Anthroposophic lifestyle, Allergy, Stress, Children, Sense of Coherence
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Research subject
Medicine
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-221438 (URN)978-91-554-8934-2 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-05-22, Universitetshuset, sal IX, S:t Olofsgatan, Uppsala, 13:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-28 Created: 2014-03-31 Last updated: 2015-07-29Bibliographically approved

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Swartz, JackieLindblad, Frank

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