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08-01-2016 | Uitgave 7/2016 Open Access

Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology 7/2016

Early Childhood Precursors and School age Correlates of Different Internalising Problem Trajectories Among Young Children

Research on Child and Adolescent Psychopathology > Uitgave 7/2016
Alison Parkes, Helen Sweeting, Daniel Wight
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The online version of this article (doi:10.​1007/​s10802-015-0116-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.


It is unclear why trajectories of internalising problems vary between groups of young children. This is the first attempt in the United Kingdom to identify and explain different trajectories of internalising problems from 46 to 94 months. Using both mother- and child-reported data from the large Growing Up in Scotland (GUS) birth cohort (N = 2901; male N = 1497, female N = 1404), we applied growth mixture modelling and multivariable multinomial regression models. Three trajectories were identified: low-stable, high-decreasing and medium-increasing. There were no gender differences in trajectory shape, membership, or importance of covariates. Children from both elevated trajectories shared several early risk factors (low income, poor maternal mental health, poor partner relationship, pre-school behaviour problems) and school-age covariates (low mother-child warmth and initial school maladjustment) and reported fewer supportive friendships at 94 months. However, there were also differences in covariates between the two elevated trajectories. Minority ethnic status and pre-school conduct problems were more strongly associated with the high-decreasing trajectory; and covariates measured after school entry (behaviour problems, mother-child conflict and school maladjustment) with the medium-increasing trajectory. This suggests a greater burden of early risk for the high-decreasing trajectory, and that children with moderate early problem levels were more vulnerable to influences after school transition. Our findings largely support the sparse existing international evidence and are strengthened by the use of child-reported data. They highlight the need to identify protective factors for children with moderate, as well as high, levels of internalising problems at pre-school age, but suggest different approaches may be required.

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