The 89th Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2020)

Heightened AMC is not correlated to self-reported maternal stress in a WEIRD sample in Tucson, AZ


School of Anthropology, University of Arizona, Crane Center for Early Childhood Research & Policy, The Ohio State University

April 16, 2020 38, Platinum Ballroom Add to calendar

Humans use extensive allomaternal care (AMC: care from individuals other than the mother) to help raise their young. AMC can offset the mother’s energetic load, supplement the infant’s nutritional needs, and create opportunities for improved early cognitive and language learning outcomes in infants. AMC might also play a role in mediating a mother’s experience of stress by lightening her care-load. If this is the case, we might expect to see that a mother reports lower parenting stress and depressive symptoms when using heightened AMC. As part of a larger study, data was collected from 102 mothers and their typically developing infants aged 13-18 months in Tucson, AZ. AMC variables were collected using questionnaires, daily diaries, and interviews to create a holistic picture of current and past AMC utilized by the mother for her participating infant since birth. Principle Component Analysis was used to generate four multidimensional AMC components: Highly Involved Familial AMC, Household AMC, Formalized AMC, and Overall AMC Network Extent. Maternal stress was measured using the sub-scale and total scores from the Parenting Stress Index 4 Short Form (PAR, Inc) and the total score for the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale Revised. Pearson’s correlation coefficients were used to determine if AMC and maternal stress are correlated. Across all AMC components and measures of maternal stress, there were no significant correlations (p > 0.1 in all cases). As clinically significant levels of stress were low in this sample (<4%), future studies in more vulnerable populations may yield different results.

Funding received from the National Science Foundation (BCS-1752542), International Chapter of the P.E.O. Sisterhood, and University of Arizona’s School of Anthropology, SBSRI, GPSC, and Confluencenter for Creative Inquiry.