Objective: To investigate the independent predictive value of parent-reported psychopathology and family risk factors in early preschool in relation to parent-reported internalizing and externalizing psychopathology in preadolescence.
Method: Subjects were participants in a longitudinal study of 420 two- to three-year-olds from the general population of Zuid-Holland, the Netherlands, which started in 1989. At a second follow-up 8 years later (ages 10-11 years), 358 children participated. For this study, 332 children were included for whom DSM-IV diagnoses (derived from the Diagnostic Interview Schedule for Children-Version 4-Parent Version) were obtained at age 10 to 11 years. Preschool risk factors were obtained through the Child Behavior Checklist for ages 2 to 3 years and a parent interview.
Results: Early preschool internalizing and externalizing problems were predictive of their DSM-IV counterparts 8 years later, independent of the influence of early parent-reported family risk factors. Preschool child physical problems were independently predictive of both internalizing and externalizing diagnoses in preadolescence. Of the environmental risk factors, only stressful life events contributed independently to the prediction of later externalizing problems.
Conclusion: Early adverse family circumstances and parenting characteristics do not contribute to the prediction of later psychopathology once child characteristics are accounted for.