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Posted April, 2009

Pre- and Postnatal Risk Factors for Australian Preschooler's Mental Health

The Western Australian Pregnancy Cohort Study, commonly known as the Raine Study, began with pregnant women seen for care at various clinical facilities in Perth. Parents subsequently completed the preschool CBCL when their children were 2 years old and the CBCL/4-18 (revised in 2001 as the CBCL/6-18) when their children were 5 years old. Because a great many candidate risk factors had been assessed and the follow-up sample was so large (N = 1,707), it was possible to test each risk factor with many others controlled in multinomic logistic regression analyses. The outcome variables were deviant scores (scores in the borderline and clinical range) on the CBCLs that were completed at ages 2 and 5. Deviant Internalizing scores at both ages 2 and 5 were predicted by nonCaucasian maternal ethnicity and by mothers' symptoms of postpartum depression. At age 2 only, deviant Internalizing scores were predicted by maternal smoking during pregnancy and by low family income. At age 5 only, deviant Internalizing scores were predicted by father absence, stressful events during pregnancy, male gender of child, small sibships, and symptoms of maternal depression. Deviant Externalizing scores at both ages 2 and 5 were predicted by young maternal age, maternal smoking, low family income, stressful events during pregnancy, short gestation, and symptoms of postpartum depression. At age 2 only, deviant Externalizing scores were predicted by male gender of child. Because so many variables were assessed and were controlled for, those that were found to be significant predictors are likely to be general risk factors in the Australian population that was sampled. The most general prediction of deviant scores across ages and types of problems were stressful events during pregnancy and smoking during pregnancy. Low income and symptoms of maternal depression were also quite general predictors.


Reference: Robinson, M., Oddy, W.H., Li, J., Kendall, G.E., de Klerk, N.H., Silburn, S.R., Zubrick, S.R., Newnham, J.P., Stanley, F.J., & Mattes, E. (2008). Pre- and postnatal influences on preschool mental health: a large-scale cohort study. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 49, 1118-1128.

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