Early predictors of antisocial developmental pathways among boys and girls

Authors

  • M. Pitzer,

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
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  • G. Esser,

    1. Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
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  • M. H. Schmidt,

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
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  • M. Laucht

    1. Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Central Institute of Mental Health, Mannheim, Germany
    2. Department of Psychology, Division of Clinical Psychology, University of Potsdam, Potsdam, Germany
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Martina Pitzer, MD, Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Klinikum Karlsruhe, Moltkestraße 90, 76133 Karlsruhe, Germany.
E-mail: Martina.Pitzer@zi-mannheim.de

Abstract

Objective:  We investigated in a high-risk sample the differential impact of biological and psychosocial risk factors on antisocial behaviour pathways.

Method:  One hundred and thirty-eight boys and 155 girls born at differing degrees of obstetric and psychosocial risk were examined from birth until adolescence. Childhood temperament was assessed by a highly-structured parent-interview and standardized behavioural observations, adolescent temperament was measured by self-report. Neurodevelopmental variables were assessed by age-specific developmental tests. Emotional and behaviour problems were measured at the ages of 8 and 15 by the Achenbach scales.

Results:  In both genders, psychosocial adversity and early self-control temperament were strongly associated with early-onset persistent (EOP) antisocial behaviour. Psychosocial adversity and more severe externalizing problems differentiated the EOP from childhood-limited (CL) pathway. In girls, adolescent-onset (AO) antisocial behaviour was strongly associated with novelty seeking at 15 years.

Conclusion:  Our findings emphasize the need for early support and intervention in psychosocially disadvantaged families.

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