Children's internalizing and externalizing behaviors and maternal health problems

J Pediatr Psychol. 1994 Oct;19(5):571-93. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/19.5.571.


Examined the impact of a range of health related constructs reflecting maternal physical symptomatology, health services utilization, subjective health status, depressed mood, medical-psychological complaints, and marital adjustment on children's internalizing and externalizing behavior problems in a community sample (N = 145). Physical symptomatology predicted a general second-order latent factor of children's behavior problems. Depressed mood predicted a primary latent factor of internalizing child behavior problems. Seizure symptoms, and more health problems in the last 4 years specifically predicted child psychosomatic complaints/anxiety. Thus, general physical symptoms predicted a broad spectrum of problem behaviors, whereas specific mental or physical health problems predicted similar distinct problem behavior syndromes. Implications of these results for identifying children at risk for psychopathology, and the relevance of social learning theory and a broader based family systems approach are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child Behavior Disorders / psychology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Maternal Welfare*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales