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Aust N Z J Psychiatry. 2004 May;38(5):365-72.

Early risk factors for adolescent antisocial behaviour: an Australian longitudinal study.

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Mater Child and Youth Mental Health Service, Mater Health Services, South Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.



This investigation utilizes data from an Australian longitudinal study to identify early risk factors for adolescent antisocial behaviour.


Analyses are based on data from the Mater University Study of Pregnancy, an on-going longitudinal investigation of women's and children's health and development involving over 8000 participants. Five types of risk factors (child characteristics, perinatal factors, maternal/familial characteristics, maternal pre- and post-natal substance use and parenting practices) were included in analyses and were based on maternal reports, child assessments and medical records. Adolescent antisocial behaviour was measured when children were 14 years old, using the delinquency subscale of the Child Behaviour Checklist.


Based on a series of logistic regression models, significant risk factors for adolescent antisocial behaviour included children's prior problem behaviour (i.e. aggression and attention/restlessness problems at age 5 years) and marital instability, which doubled or tripled the odds of antisocial behaviour. Perinatal factors, maternal substance use, and parenting practices were relatively poor predictors of antisocial behaviour.


Few studies have assessed early predictors of antisocial behaviour in Australia and the current results can be used to inform prevention programs that target risk factors likely to lead to problem outcomes for Australian youth.

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