Developmental trajectories of conduct problems and hyperactivity from ages 2 to 10


Daniel S. Shaw, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh, 210 S. Bouquet Street, 4101 Sennott Square, Pittsburgh, PA, 15260-0001, USA; Tel: 412 624-2836; Fax: 412: 624-8827; Email:


Background:  Conduct problems (CP) and hyperactivity/attention problems (HAP) are thought to covary with regularity, yet few studies have examined their co-occurrence or risk factors that discriminate their trajectories beginning in early childhood.

Method:  The present study sought to advance our understanding of this issue by examining separate trajectories of overt CP and HAP symptomatology among 284 boys from urban, low-income families followed from ages 1.5 to 10. We also investigated the co-occurrence of persistent CP and HAP and explored risk factors that discriminate CP and HAP trajectories.

Results:  Four similar trajectory groups were identified for both CP and HAP symptoms. Chronic CP was differentiated from persistent low CP by risk factors in child, parenting, and family domains, while chronic trajectories of HAP were typified by elevated maternal depressive symptoms compared to children with persistent low HAP.

Conclusions:  The findings extend previous research with older children of HAP and/or CP, highlighting the effects of proximal family and child risk factors that are identifiable in the first two years of children's lives and associated with trajectories of disruptive behavior.