Published:  2008

Problem Behavior and Heart Rate Reactivity in Adopted Adolescents: Longitudinal and Concurrent Relations

Authors:  Nicole Bimmel, Marinus H. Van IJzendoorn, Marian J. Bakermans-Kranenburg, Femmie Juffer, Eco J. C. De Geus


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The present longitudinal study examined resting heart rate and heart rate variability and reactivity to a stressful gambling task in adopted adolescents with aggressive, delinquent, or internalizing behavior problems and adopted adolescents without behavior problems (total N=151). Early-onset delinquent adolescents showed heart rate hyporeactivity to the stress-eliciting gambling task compared to late-onset delinquent adolescents and adolescents without behavior problems. Heart rate, heart rate variability, and reactivity to stress were not related to environmental factors such as early-childhood parental sensitivity, parental socioeconomic status, or adoptee’s health status at arrival. We conclude that the distinction between delinquency and aggression and between childhood-onset and adolescence-onset delinquency is important for the study of stress reactivity in adolescents.