Hormonal indicators of paternal care in humans : a longitudinal study of first-time parents

Delahunty, Krista M. (2003) Hormonal indicators of paternal care in humans : a longitudinal study of first-time parents. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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    Available under License - The author retains copyright ownership and moral rights in this thesis. Neither the thesis nor substantial extracts from it may be printed or otherwise reproduced without the author's permission.
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Abstract

Men and women expecting their first child were tested within two weeks and two months before and after birth. A control group of couples were tested twice, at four weeks apart. Baseline finger stick blood samples were collected. At all stages except the early prenatal, an infant stimuli test was administered and a second blood sample was taken 30-minutes later. For the prenatal test, couples held a doll, listened to a tape of infant cries, and watched a video. Postnatally, the father held his baby and the mother held the doll with no other stimuli presented. Blood spot prolactin, cortisol, and testosterone levels were measured. Men in the pregnant group had changes in baseline prolactin, with highest levels two weeks after the birth. Fathers had short-term decreases in prolactin during the early postnatal stage. Prolactin levels in control men did not change. Pregnant women's baseline prolactin levels changed over time, with highest levels in the two weeks before the birth. During the late prenatal stage, pregnant women had short-term increases in prolactin levels. No baseline or short-term changes in free testosterone or cortisol levels were found for men in either group. Pregnant women had changes in baseline cortisol levels, with a peak at the late prenatal stage, but no short-term changes. Cortisol levels were correlated between pregnant women and men, but not between control couples. Men and women who reported difficulty with parenting had higher cortisol levels at some stages. Fathers who reported 'concern' prenatally in response to baby cries had short-term increases in prolactin levels during the early postnatal stage, and decreases in testosterone levels during the late postnatal stage. The birth of a child can cause significant longitudinal hormonal changes in men. Fathers' prenatal responses to infant stimuli may be predictive of certain patterns of hormonal change after the birth of their babies.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7049
Item ID: 7049
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references.
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Cognitive and Behavioural Ecology
Date: 2003
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Parent and infant; Parenting; Human behavior--Endocrine aspects; Prolactin

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