Comorbid development of disruptive behaviors from age 1½ to 5 years in a population birth-cohort and association with school adjustment in first grade
Comorbidity of Disruptive Behaviors from age 1½ to 5 years
Article [Accepted Manuscript]
Is part ofJournal of abnormal child psychology ; vol. 44, no. 4, pp. 677-690.
Comorbidity is frequent among disruptive behaviors (DB) and leads to mental health problems during adolescence and adulthood. However, the early developmental origins of this comorbidity have so far received little attention. This study investigated the developmental comorbidity of three DB categories during early childhood: hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, and physical aggression. Joint developmental trajectories of DB were identified based on annual mother interviews from age 1½ to 5 years, in a population-representative birth-cohort (N = 2045). A significant proportion of children (13 % to 21 %, depending on the type of DB) consistently displayed high levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, or physical aggression from age 1½ to 5 years. Developmental comorbidity was frequent, especially for boys: 10 % of boys and 3.7 % of girls were on a stable trajectory with high levels of symptoms for the three categories of DB. Significant associations were observed between preschool joint-trajectories of DB and indicators of DB and school adjustment assessed by teachers in first grade. Preschoolers who maintained high levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, and physical aggression, displayed the highest number of DB symptoms in first grade for all categories according to their teacher. They were also among the most disadvantaged of their class for school adjustment indicators. Thus, DB manifestations and developmental comorbidity of DB are highly prevalent in infancy. Early childhood appears to be a critical period to prevent persistent and comorbid DB that leads to impairment at the very beginning of school attendance and to long-term serious health and social adjustment problems.