European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 15, Issue 8, pp 460–466 | Cite as

Risk factors for the development of emotional and behavioural problems in children born to drug-dependent mothers

  • Hans-Christoph Steinhausen
  • Serena Dal Mas
  • Christoph Ledermann
  • Christa Winkler Metzke
ORIGINAL CONTRIBUTION

Abstract

Background

The study of biological and psychosocial risk factors for the development of emotional and behavioural problems in children of drug-dependent mothers.

Methods

In a sample of 52 children and drug-dependent mothers participating in a residential intervention programme emotional and behavioural problems were studied in the children by use of the Child Behaviour Checklist (CBCL). The Symptom-Checklist Revised (SCL-90-R) served to assess mental problems in the mother. Drug exposure during pregnancy, various psychosocial risk factors due to the drug-career, and educational status of the mother were assessed by maternal interview. A brief assessment of intelligence of the mother was included.

Results

Among the various biological and psychosocial risk factors, maternal mental health problems, maternal educational status, and a small number of close social relationships correlated significantly with child outcome variables. Multiple regression analyses identified maternal mental health factors as the main predictors of child behaviour.

Conclusions

Assisting drug-dependent mothers in overcoming the psychosocial sequelae of drug abuse implies also assistance to the children in terms of prevention of emotional and behavioural problems.

Keywords

drug abuse mothers behaviour problems 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The author would like to thank all the participating mothers and children of the present study and the two teams of the supporting residential treatment centres, particularly Elisabeth Frei on behalf of “Die Alternative” and Verena Schäfer on behalf of “Sozialtherapeutische Gemeinschaft Ruedli”.

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Copyright information

© Steinkopff Verlag Darmstadt 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Christoph Steinhausen
    • 1
  • Serena Dal Mas
    • 1
  • Christoph Ledermann
    • 1
  • Christa Winkler Metzke
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of ZürichZürichSwitzerland

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