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The association between preschool behavioural problems and internalizing difficulties at age 10-12 years

[journal article]

Slemming, Kirsten; Sørensen, Merete J.; Thomsen, Per H.; Obel, Carsten; Henriksen, Tine B.; Linnet, Karen M.

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Abstract The aim was to study the association between preschool behavioural problems and emotional symptoms in 10- to 12-year-old children. The study was based on the Aarhus Birth cohort, Denmark, and included 1,336 children. Based on the parent-administered preschool behaviour questionnaire (PBQ), we identified three not mutually exclusive preschool behavioural categories: anxious–fearful (n = 146), hyperactive–distractible (n = 98), and hostile–aggressive (n = 170). Children without any known symptoms were considered well adjusted (n = 1,000). Borderline emotional (n = 105) and emotional difficulties (n = 136) were measured at age 10–12 years with the parent-administered strength and difficulties questionnaire (SDQ). Multinomial logistic regression analyses were used to adjust for potential confounding factors. We found that anxious–fearful behaviour and hostile–aggressive preschool behaviour were associated with twice the risk of school-age emotional difficulties. Comorbidity or confounding failed to explain these results. Hyperactive–distractible preschool behaviour was not associated with school-age emotional difficulties. Preschool anxious–fearful behaviour was associated with school-age emotional difficulties, suggesting internalizing symptom stability in some children from early childhood. Preschool hostile–aggressive behaviour was also associated with school-age emotional difficulties, which suggests transformation of one behavioural dimension into another through childhood, and the need to focus on both early internalizing difficulties and hostile–aggressive behaviour as risk factors for later internalizing difficulties.
Classification Developmental Psychology; Psychological Disorders, Mental Health Treatment and Prevention
Free Keywords Preschool; School-age; Internalizing; Externalizing; Symptom stability
Document language English
Publication Year 2010
Page/Pages p. 787-795
Journal European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, 19 (2010) 10
DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00787-010-0128-2
Status Postprint; peer reviewed
Licence PEER Licence Agreement (applicable only to documents from PEER project)