How do negative family dynamics influence children’s biological processes and their subsequent susceptibility to upper respiratory infections (URI)? URIs are the most common and costly childhood infections, resulting in significant missed days of school. They have been linked to psychological stress—specifically familial stress—but little is known about how high-risk settings influence the biological and behavioral pathways that may lead to deleterious effects on health. Robles and colleagues will use this grant to test these hypothesized linkages by asking the following questions: Are children who frequently experience URIs more likely than those who don’t to live in family settings with risky characteristics? How are the characteristics of family risk related to URI incidence and severity over time? What are the biological and behavioral pathways that mediate associations between URI and family risk behaviors? A diverse set of 80 families from Southern California with at least one child between the ages of 8 and 11 will participate in the study. Half of the families will have a child who has had seven or more URIs in the past year and the other half will have a child who has had no more than two URIs in the past year. Both parents and children will keep daily self-report diaries for eight weeks, recording experiences and activities, including mood, stress, peer interactions, school success, sibling conflict, parental warmth and neglect, parent-child conflict, inter-parental affection and conflict, and URI symptoms. Other measures of individual and familial function will also be collected. Biological measures (saliva samples) will be collected during the third and sixth weeks of the study.
How do negative family dynamics influence children’s biological processes and their subsequent susceptibility to upper respiratory infections (URI)?