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Dev Psychopathol. 2006 Spring;18(2):517-50.

The development and maintenance of anxiety symptoms from infancy through adolescence in a longitudinal sample.

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Boston Medical Center, Boston University School of Medicine, USA.


This study examined the etiology and course of anxiety symptoms from infancy through adolescence in a longitudinal high-risk community sample. One hundred fifty-five subjects were assessed using a variety of observational, projective, and objective measures. Results of path analyses revealed the following: (a) anxiety symptoms showed moderate stability during childhood and adolescence; (b) heightened neonatal biobehavioral reactivity and poor regulation predicted emotion regulation difficulties in preschool, which predicted anxiety symptoms in childhood; (c) developmental incompetence in childhood predicted anxiety symptoms in preadolescence, and anxiety symptoms in preadolescence predicted incompetence in adolescence; (d) insecure attachment relationships in infancy predicted negative peer relationship representations in preadolescence, and these representations predicted anxiety symptoms in adolescence; (e) compared to males, females showed similar rates of anxiety symptoms in childhood but greater and more stable rates in adolescence; however, males and females showed similar patterns of association between risk factors and anxiety symptoms across childhood and adolescence; and (f) the model tested was specific in predicting anxiety symptoms and not psychopathology in general. The results support a developmental model of the etiology and maintenance of anxiety symptoms in childhood and highlight factors to consider in efforts to prevent and treat childhood anxiety.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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