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Intervening to enhance cortisol regulation among children at risk for neglect: Results of a randomized clinical trial

  • Kristin Bernard (a1), Mary Dozier (a2), Johanna Bick (a3) and M. Kathleen Gordon (a2)

The hypothalamus–pituitary–adrenal axis is particularly sensitive to conditions of maltreatment. In particular, neglected children have shown a flatter slope with lower wake-up values relative to nonneglected children. An intervention, the Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC), was developed to enhance biological and behavioral regulation in young children at risk for neglect. The effectiveness of the intervention was assessed in a randomized clinical trial for children with involvement with Child Protective Services. Following the intervention, children receiving the ABC intervention (n = 49) showed more typical cortisol production, with higher wake-up cortisol values and a steeper diurnal slope, than children receiving the control intervention (n = 51). These results suggest that the ABC intervention is effective in enhancing biological regulation.

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Address correspondence and reprint requests to: Kristin Bernard, Psychology Department, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY 11794; E-mail:
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Development and Psychopathology
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