• Predictors;
  • psychopathology;
  • infant mental health;
  • birth cohort;
  • epidemiology;
  • longitudinal studies

Background:  Epidemiological studies of mental health problems in the first years of life are few. This study aims to investigate infancy predictors of psychopathology in the second year of life.

Methods:  A random general population sample of 210 children from the Copenhagen Child Birth Cohort CCC 2000 was investigated by data from National Danish registers and data collected prospectively from birth in a general child health surveillance programme. Mental health outcome at 1½ years was assessed by clinical and standardised measures including the Child Behavior Check List 1½–5 (CBCL 1½–5), Infant Toddler Symptom Check List (ITSCL), Checklist for Autism in Toddlers (CHAT), Bayley Scales of Infant Development (BSID II), Mannheim Eltern Interview (MEI), Parent Child Early Relational Assessment (PC ERA) and Parent Infant Relationship Global Assessment Scale (PIR-GAS), and disordered children were diagnosed according to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10) and Diagnostic Classification Zero to Three (DC: 0–3).

Results:  Deviant language development in the first 10 months of life predicted the child having any disorder at 1½ years, OR 3.3 (1.4–8.0). Neuro-developmental disorders were predicted by deviant neuro-cognitive functioning, OR 6.8 (2.2–21.4), deviant language development, OR 5.9 (1.9–18.7) and impaired social interaction and communication, OR 3.8 (1.3–11.4). Unwanted pregnancy and parents’ negative expectations of the child recorded in the first months of the child's life were significant predictors of relationship disturbances at 1½ years.

Conclusions:  Predictors of neuro-developmental disorders and parent–child relationship disturbances can be identified in the first 10 months of life in children from the general population.