Aim: To investigate the effects of age, gender, prenatal/perinatal factors, and maternal psychological distress on childhood emotional/behavioral problems, and the gender difference in the patterns of comorbid emotional/behavioral problems.
Methods: The sample included 1391 children aged 4–9 in Taipei using a multi-stage sampling method. Their mothers completed questionnaires including demographics, prenatal/perinatal variables, the Child Behavior Checklist, and the Chinese Health Questionnaire. The linear and non-linear mixed model was used for data analysis.
Results: Boys scored higher on externalizing problems, and girls scored higher on internalizing problems. Gender also modified the comorbid patterns of emotional/behavioral problems. Aggressive behaviors decreased, but attention and thought problems increased with age. Prenatal/perinatal exposure to alcohol and coffee, vaginal bleeding, and gestational diabetes, low birthweight, and postnatal incubation and resuscitation, and maternal psychological distress predicted the risk for several childhood emotional/behavioral problems.
Conclusion: Prenatal/perinatal and maternal care, and gender-specific measures are important for prevention of childhood emotional/behavioral problems.