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The link between infant regulatory problems, temperament traits, maternal depressive symptoms and children’s psychopathological symptoms at age three: a longitudinal study in a German at-risk sample

Sidor, Anna ; Fischer, Cristina ; Cierpka, Manfred

In: Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health, 11 (2017), Nr. 10. pp. 1-17. ISSN 1753-2000

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Download (1MB) | Lizenz: Creative Commons LizenzvertragThe link between infant regulatory problems, temperament traits, maternal depressive symptoms and children’s psychopathological symptoms at age three: a longitudinal study in a German at-risk sample by Sidor, Anna ; Fischer, Cristina ; Cierpka, Manfred underlies the terms of Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Germany

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Abstract

Background: Difficult conditions during childhood can limit an individual’s development in many ways. Factors such as being raised in an at-risk family, child temperamental traits or maternal traits can potentially influence a child’s later behaviour. The present study investigated the extent of regulatory problems in 6-month-old infants and their link to temperamental traits and impact on externalizing and internalizing problems at 36 months. Moderating effects of maternal distress and maternal depressive symptoms were tested as well. Methods: In a quasi-experimental, longitudinal study, a sample of 185 mother-infant dyads at psychosocial risk was investigated at 6 months with SFS (infants’ regulatory problems) and at 3 years with CBCL (children’s behavioural problems), EAS (children’s temperament), ADS (maternal depressive symptoms) and PSI-SF (maternal stress). Results: A hierarchical regression analysis yielded a significant association between infants’ regulatory problems and both externalizing and internalizing behaviour problems at age 3 (accounting for 16% and 14% variance), with both externalizing and internalizing problems being linked to current maternal depressive symptoms (12 and 9% of the variance). Externalizing and internalizing problems were found to be related also to children’s temperamental difficulty (18 and 13% of variance) and their negative emotionality. With temperamental traits having been taken into account, only feeding problems at 6 months contributed near-significant to internalizing problems at 3 years. Conclusions: Our results underscore the crucial role of temperament in the path between early regulatory problems and subsequent behavioural difficulties. Children’s unfavourable temperamental predispositions such as negative emotionality and generally “difficult temperament” contributed substantially to both externalizing and internalizing behavioural problems in the high-risk sample. The decreased predictive power of regulatory problems following the inclusion of temperamental variables indicates a mediation effect of temperamental traits in the path between early regulatory problems and subsequent behavioural problems. Our results support the main effects of a child’s temperament, and to some degree maternal depressive symptoms, rather than the diathesis stress model of interaction between risky environment and temperamental traits. Trial registration: D10025651 (NZFH)

Item Type: Article
Journal or Publication Title: Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health
Volume: 11
Number: 10
Publisher: BioMed Central
Place of Publication: London
Date Deposited: 08 Mar 2017 14:01
Date: 2017
ISSN: 1753-2000
Page Range: pp. 1-17
Faculties / Institutes: The Faculty of Behavioural and Cultural Studies > Institute of Psychology
Subjects: 150 Psychology
610 Medical sciences Medicine
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