OBJECTIVE: To investigate the relationship between cognitive delay (CD) and behavior problems between ages 9 months and 5 years, while adjusting for covariates related to CD.
METHODS: Data were from 4 waves of the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort (n = 8000). Children were classified as typically developing (TD) or as having resolved, newly developed, or persistent CD between 9 and 24 months, based on scores from the Bayley Short Form-Research Edition below or above the 10th percentile. Child behavior was measured by using the Infant/Toddler Symptom Checklist (ages 9 and 24 months) and the Preschool and Kindergarten Behavior Scales (ages 4 and 5 years); children in the top 10th percentile were considered to have a behavior problem. Hierarchical linear modeling estimated the effect of CD status on children’s behavioral trajectories, adjusted for confounders.
RESULTS: CD resolved for 80.3% of children between 9 and 24 months. Behavior problems at 24 months were detected in 19.3%, 21.8%, and 35.5% of children with resolved, newly developed, and persistent CD, respectively, versus 13.0% of TD children. Behavior problems increased among children with CD over time, and more so among children with persistent CD. By age 5, children with persistent CD had behavior scores moderately (0.59 SD) higher than TD children.
CONCLUSIONS: Behavior problems among children with CD are slightly higher at 9 months, clearly evident by 24 months, and increase as children move toward school age. Efforts to promote the earliest identification, evaluation, and service referral may be necessary to improve outcomes for these children.
- Accepted June 12, 2014.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics