Developmental Associations Between Conduct Problems and Expressive Language in Early Childhood: A Population-Based Study
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Conduct problems have been associated with poor language development, however the direction of this association in early childhood remains unclear. This study examined the longitudinal directional associations between conduct problems and expressive language ability. Children enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (N = 14, 004; 50.3 % boys) were assessed at 3 and 5 years of age. Parent reports of conduct problems and standardised assessments of expressive language were analyzed using cross-lagged modeling. Conduct problems at 3 years was associated with poorer expressive language at 5 years and poorer expressive language at 3 years was associated with increased conduct problems by 5 years. The results support reciprocal associations, rather than a specific unidirectional path, which is commonly found with samples of older children. The emergence of problems in either domain can thus negatively impact upon the other over time, albeit the effects were modest. Studies examining the effects of intervention targeting conduct problems and language acquisition prior to school entry may be warranted in testing the efficacy of prevention programmes related to conduct problems and poor language ability early in childhood.
KeywordsConduct problems Expressive language Early childhood Millennium Cohort Study
Permission to use the U.K. Millennium Cohort Study given by the ESRC Data Archive at Essex is gratefully acknowledged. The authors also thank the participants and their families for their long-term commitment to this study. We would also like to acknowledge Xuecheng Liu for his statistical expertise.
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Conflict of Interest
There are no conflicts of interest for any author listed in the byline of this manuscript. Further, the authors report no financial relationships with commercial interests.
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