To determine whether maternal report of infant behavioral dysregulation at 6 months is associated with a higher prevalence of behavioral concerns at 5, 14, and 21 years of age; and to assess the extent to which maternal and social factors may affect reported child behavior outcomes.
From the Mater-University of Queensland Study of Pregnancy cohort of 7223 live singleton babies, information on dysregulation was available for 6389 children at 6 months. Of those children, behavior data were available for 4836 at 5 years by using a modified Child Behavior Checklist, 4746 at 14 years by using a full Child Behavior Checklist and Youth Self-Report, and 3558 at 21 years by using a Young Adult Self-Report. Of the youth with dysregulation data at 6 months, 2308 completed the Composite International Diagnostic Interview at 21 years. Potential confounding and mediating factors were analyzed by using logistic regression.
Maternal-reported behavioral dysregulation at 6 months was associated with a significantly higher prevalence of maternal-reported behavior problems at 5 and 14 years (P < .001), but not youth self-reported problems at 14 or 21 years, or Composite International Diagnostic Interview–Diagnostic and Statistical Manual diagnoses at 21 years. The strength of association between infant dysregulation and maternal-reported behaviors was greater at 5 years than at 14 years, and was substantially reduced by adjusting for maternal, social, and infant factors, especially potentially the mediating factors of maternal anxiety and depression.
Infant behavioral dysregulation was a risk factor for maternal-reported behavior concerns at 5 and 14 years, although was unrelated to young adult mental health.