, Volume 38, Issue 8, pp 1151-1164,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 May 2010

National Origin and Behavioural Problems of Toddlers: The Role of Family Risk Factors and Maternal Immigration Characteristics


In many societies the prevalence of behavioural problems in school-aged children varies by national origin. We examined the association between national origin and behavioural problems in 1½-year-old children. Data on maternal national origin and the Child Behavior Checklist for toddlers (n = 4943) from a population-based cohort in the Netherlands were used. Children from various non-Dutch backgrounds all had a significantly higher mean behavioural problem score. After adjustment for family risk factors, like family income and maternal psychopathology, the differences attenuated, but remained statistically significant. Non-Dutch mothers with immigration risk factors, such as older age at immigration or no good Dutch language skills, reported significantly more behavioural problems in their offspring. In conclusion, the present study indicated more behavioural problems in immigrant toddlers from various backgrounds. Researchers and policymakers aiming to tackle disparities in behavioural problems should take into account that risks associated with national origin are intertwined with unfavourable family and immigration characteristics.