Psychological risk factors for borderline pathology in school-age children

J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1999 Feb;38(2):206-12. doi: 10.1097/00004583-199902000-00021.


Objective: To determine whether children with borderline pathology have a specific pattern of psychological risk factors.

Method: The subjects were 94 school-age children in day treatment, divided into borderline (n = 41) and nonborderline (n = 53) groups using the child version of the Retrospective Diagnostic Interview for Borderlines. All children were assessed using the Child Behavior Checklist, the Schedule for Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-Age Children, and the Psychosocial Questionnaire. Parental pathology was assessed by a computerized version of the Structured Clinical Interview for DSM-III-R.

Results: Children with borderline pathology had higher rates of physical abuse, sexual abuse, severe neglect, as well as family breakdown and parental criminality. In multivariate analyses, the discriminating factors were sexual abuse and parental criminality. Borderline pathology was highly comorbid with conduct disorder, but most of these results remained significant in reanalyses comparing children with and without conduct disorder.

Conclusions: Borderline pathology in children has a unique pattern of risk factors not accounted for by conduct disorder alone.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Borderline Personality Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Borderline Personality Disorder / psychology*
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Child
  • Child Abuse, Sexual
  • Conduct Disorder / diagnosis
  • Conduct Disorder / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales / standards*
  • Psychology, Child*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors