Early Regulatory Problems in Infancy and Psychopathological Symptoms at 24 Months: A Longitudinal Study in a High-risk SampleAnna Sidor*Cristina Fischer,Manfred Cierpka
Department of Psychosomatic Cooperation Research and Family Therapy, Heidelberg University Hospital, Heidelberg, Germany
- *Corresponding Author:
- Anna Sidor
Department of Psychosomatic Cooperation Research and Family Therapy
Heidelberg University Hospital
Bergheimerstr. 54, 69115, Heidelberg, Germany
Received Date: September 26, 2013; Accepted Date: November 08, 2013; Published Date: November 18, 2013
Citation: Sidor A, Fischer C, Cierpka M (2013) Early Regulatory Problems in Infancy and Psychopathological Symptoms at 24 Months: A Longitudinal Study in a High-risk Sample. J Child Adolesc Behav 1:116. doi:10.4172/2375-4494.1000116
Copyright: © 2013 Sidor A, et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.
Background: This study investigates the association between regulatory disorders in infants at five months and
the development of early childhood problems at 24 months.
Methods: The sample was made up of 223 mother-child dyads from multi-problem families who participated
in German family support research project “Nobody slips through the net”: These families faced psychosocial risks
(e.g. poverty, excessive demands on the mother and mental health disorders of the mother, measured with the risk
screening instrument Heidelberger Belastungsskala-HBS) and maternal stress, determined with the Parental Stress
Index (PSI-SF). The children’s psychopathologic symptoms and possible early regulatory problems were evaluated
by means of Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL 1 1/2-5) and a German questionnaire assessing problems of excessive
crying, along with sleeping and feeding difficulties (SFS).
Results: A statistically significant association between excessive crying, whining and sleeping problems of
5-month-old infants and both externalizing and internalizing problems of the same infants at age 2 (accounting for
17% and 15% of the variance, respectively) was found after controlling for maternal education, maternal status
and infant sex. Feeding problems had no effect on the subsequent development of early childhood problems. Both
externalizing and internalizing difficulties were associated with concurrent maternal distress (15% and 12% of the
variance) and maternal assessment of the child as being a “difficult child” (14% and 5%, respectively), whereas
concurrent maternal depressive symptoms contributed only marginally to the variance explanation (2% for both
CBCL scales) at child’s age of 24 months.
Conclusion: The results show that infants` regulatory problems contribute substantially to an increased risk of
both externalized and internalized psychic problems in early childhood in the high-risk sample. Easily accessible
support services provided by family health visitors (particularly to the so-called “at-risk families”) are strongly
recommended to help prevent the broadening of children’s early regulatory problems into other areas of behavior.