Original Article

Maternal and Child Health Journal

, Volume 10, Issue 4, pp 329-338

First online:

Behavioral Problems and the Effects of Early Intervention on Eight-Year-Old Children with Learning Disabilities

  • Jennifer W. YuAffiliated withInstitute for Health Policy Studies, University of CaliforniaUCSF Institute for Health Policy Studies Email author 
  • , Stephen L. BukaAffiliated withDepartment of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public HealthDepartment of Epidemiology, Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Marie C. McCormickAffiliated withDepartment of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Garrett M. FitzmauriceAffiliated withDivision of General Medicine, Brigham and Women's HospitalDepartment of Biostatistics, Harvard School of Public Health
  • , Alka IndurkhyaAffiliated withDepartment of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health

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Objectives: 1) To investigate the comorbidity of verbal and nonverbal learning disability subtypes with several domains of behavior problems among 8-year-old children. 2) To determine whether receipt of an early intervention modified the association between childhood behavior problems and learning disabilities (LD). Methods: This is a secondary data analysis of the Infant Health and Development Program (IHDP), a randomized clinical trial of an early intervention provided between ages 0 and 3 involving 985 children born low birthweight and premature. The findings are based on a prospective follow-up of these children at 8 years of age. Results: Compared to children without verbal LD (VLD), those with VLD were twice as likely to exhibit clinical levels of total behavior problems and 89% more likely to exhibit externalizing behavior problems. Analysis of specific subscales of behavior revealed significant associations with anxious/depressed and withdrawn behaviors, as well as an increased likelihood of attention problems among children with VLD. No significant association was found between nonverbal LD (NVLD) and any type of behavior problem. Furthermore, there was a significant interaction between VLD and the intervention, in which the odds of internalizing behavior problems were greater among children with VLD. No interaction effect of the intervention occurred for any type of behavior problem among children with NVLD. Conclusions: These findings provide evidence that distinct differences exist for different learning disability subtypes with regards to behavioral outcomes and the effects of early intervention services among 8-year-old children.


learning disability behavior early intervention childhood.