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    Prior research examining parent-child separation and the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis functioning has primarily focused on separation due to parental divorce or loss or forced migration. Less clear is the impact of parental economic migration on adolescents' HPA axis functioning. The present study fills this gap by examining diurnal cortisol patterns among left-behind adolescents who experienced separation from their migrant parents. Participants were 293 Chinese adolescents (33.4% girls, 66.21% left-behind adolescents; Mage = 10.80 years old, SD = 0.82 years). Two-level multilevel modeling was conducted to examine the associations between parent-child separation experiences and diurnal cortisol patterns. Although no significant differences were found between left-behind adolescents and their non-left-behind peers, results revealed that left-behind adolescents who experienced parent-child separation at earlier ages had more blunted diurnal cortisol slopes (usually signaling poorer mental and physical health), compared to their counterparts who experienced separation at older ages. Left-behind adolescent girls who had more adverse separation experiences exhibited smaller waking cortisol and blunted diurnal slopes; these findings were not observed among left-behind adolescent boys. Observing the association between timing of parent-child separation and adolescents' diurnal cortisol and the moderating effects of child sex, this study contributes uniquely to the developmental science of left-behind adolescents' physiological health. © 2023. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature.


    Mingjun Xie, Yanping Jiang, Samuele Zilioli, Shiyuan Xiang, Shan Zhao, Danhua Lin. Parent-Child Separation and Diurnal Cortisol Rhythms Among Left-Behind Adolescents: The Moderating Role of Sex. Journal of youth and adolescence. 2023 Oct;52(10):2144-2157

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    PMID: 37481502

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