OBJECTIVES: The aim of this study was to examine the plausibility of a risk prediction tool in infancy for school-entry emotional and behavioral problems. Familial aggregation has been operationalized previously as maternal psychopathology. The hypothesis was tested that older sibling (OS) psychopathology, as an indicator of familial aggregation, would enable a fair level of risk prediction compared with previous research, when combined with traditional risk factors.
METHODS: By using a longitudinal design, data on child and family risk factors were collected on 323 infants (M = 2.00 months), all of whom had OSs. Infants were followed up 4.5 years later when both parents provided ratings of emotional and behavioral problems. Multiple regression and receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were conducted for emotional, conduct, and attention problems separately.
RESULTS: The emotional and behavioral problems of OSs at infancy were the strongest predictors of the same problems in target children 4.5 years later. Other risk factors, including maternal depression and socioeconomic status provided extra, but weak, significant prediction. The area under the receiver operating characteristic curve for emotional and conduct problems yielded a fair prediction.
CONCLUSIONS: This study is the first to offer a fair degree of prediction from risk factors at birth to school-entry emotional and behavioral problems. This degree of prediction was achieved with the inclusion of the emotional and behavioral problems of OSs (thus limiting generalizability to children with OSs). The inclusion of OS psychopathology raises risk prediction to a fair level.
- Accepted May 16, 2017.
- Copyright © 2017 by the American Academy of Pediatrics