Risk Factors for Learning-Related Behavior Problems at 24 Months of Age: Population-Based Estimates

Morgan, Paul L.; Farkas, George; Hillemeier, Marianne M.; Maczuga, Steven
April 2009
Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology;Apr2009, Vol. 37 Issue 3, p401
Academic Journal
We used a large sample of singleton children to estimate the effects of socioeconomic status (SES), race/ethnicity, gender, additional socio-demographics, gestational and birth factors, and parenting on children’s risk for learning-related behavior problems at 24 months of age. We investigated to what extent these factors increased a child’s risk of displaying inattention, a lack of task persistence, disinterest, non-cooperation, or frustration as he or she completed a series of cognitive and physical tasks with a non-caregiver. Results indicated that boys are about twice as likely as girls to display learning-related behavior problems. Children from lower SES households are about twice as likely as those from high SES households to display such behavior problems, which is largely attributable to the effects of having a mother with a low educational level. Statistically controlling for these factors, we found consistently significant patterns of elevated learning-related behavior problems for some Asian and Native American children. Results for African-American children were mixed. Hispanic children did not have consistently elevated risks of problem behaviors. Only small portions of these effects are explained by variation in the children’s gestational or birth characteristics. A significant portion, but still less than half of the socio-demographic effects are attributable to measured features of the children’s parenting. This study helps provide population-based estimates of children’s risk for learning-related behavior problems while at an age when early interventions are most effective.


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