Associations of Birth Factors and Socio-Economic Status with Indicators of Early Emotional Development and Mental Health in Childhood: A Population-Based Linkage Study


Using a linked population-based database established on healthcare, socio-economic, and survey datasets in British Columbia, Canada, we examined how biological, socio-demographic, and socio-economic status (SES) factors at birth related to children’s emotional development and mental health. One analysis examined teacher-rated anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression for kindergarten children (Mage = 5.7; n = 134,094). Another analysis examined administrative healthcare records comprising of physician-assigned diagnostic codes for mental health conditions (conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder and depression) from ages 5 through 15 (n = 89,404). Various factors at birth, including gestational age, birthweight, and maternal demographics, were related to emotional development and mental health in childhood. Across outcomes, low SES indicated detrimental associations with various aspects of children’s emotional development and mental health (e.g., adjusted odds of mental health conditions were 25–39% higher for children of low income families versus others). Findings reinforce evidence that poverty (reduction) is a primary public health issue.

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Correspondence to Martin Guhn.

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Guhn, M., Emerson, S.D., Mahdaviani, D. et al. Associations of Birth Factors and Socio-Economic Status with Indicators of Early Emotional Development and Mental Health in Childhood: A Population-Based Linkage Study. Child Psychiatry Hum Dev 51, 80–93 (2020) doi:10.1007/s10578-019-00912-6

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  • Birth factors
  • Perinatal
  • Mental health
  • Children
  • Socio-economic status