Comorbid Development of Disruptive Behaviors from age 1½ to 5 Years in a Population Birth-Cohort and Association with School Adjustment in First Grade
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Comorbidity is frequent among disruptive behaviors (DB) and leads to mental health problems during adolescence and adulthood. However, the early developmental origins of this comorbidity have so far received little attention. This study investigated the developmental comorbidity of three DB categories during early childhood: hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, and physical aggression. Joint developmental trajectories of DB were identified based on annual mother interviews from age 1½ to 5 years, in a population-representative birth-cohort (N = 2045). A significant proportion of children (13 % to 21 %, depending on the type of DB) consistently displayed high levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, or physical aggression from age 1½ to 5 years. Developmental comorbidity was frequent, especially for boys: 10 % of boys and 3.7 % of girls were on a stable trajectory with high levels of symptoms for the three categories of DB. Significant associations were observed between preschool joint-trajectories of DB and indicators of DB and school adjustment assessed by teachers in first grade. Preschoolers who maintained high levels of hyperactivity-impulsivity, non-compliance, and physical aggression, displayed the highest number of DB symptoms in first grade for all categories according to their teacher. They were also among the most disadvantaged of their class for school adjustment indicators. Thus, DB manifestations and developmental comorbidity of DB are highly prevalent in infancy. Early childhood appears to be a critical period to prevent persistent and comorbid DB that leads to impairment at the very beginning of school attendance and to long-term serious health and social adjustment problems.
KeywordsDisruptive behaviors Trajectories Comorbidity Preschool years School entry
We thank the Quebec Government Ministry of Health, the Fond Quebecois de la Recherche sur la Societe et la Culture, Canada’s Social Science and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research St.-Justine Hospital’s Research Center, and the University of Montreal for financial support. Michel Boivin is supported by the Canada Research Chair Program.
We thank the families and teachers of the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) for their collaboration to this project; for data collection and management; Xuecheng Liu, Ph.D., for statistical expertise; as well as the Quebec Institute of Statistics, Mireille Jetté, and the staff of the Research Unit on Children’s Psychosocial Maladjustment for data collection and management.
Integrity of Research and Reporting
Informed consent has been appropriately obtained and Institutional Review Board of the University of Montreal provided ethical approval. Therefore this study has been performed in accordance with the ethical standards laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
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