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Dev Psychol. 1997 Jul;33(4):681-92.

Infant attachment strategies, infant mental lag, and maternal depressive symptoms: predictors of internalizing and externalizing problems at age 7.

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Harvard Medical School, Cambridge Hospital, Massachusetts 02139, USA.


The predictive relations between assessments in infancy and parent- and teacher-reported behavior problems at age 7 were investigated within a low-income sample. Infancy assessments indexed family adversity, parent-infant interaction at home, infant attachment, infant anger-distress at home, gender, and cognitive functioning. Among children at age 7 identified by teachers as highly externalizing, 83% were both disorganized in their attachment behavior in infancy and below the national mean in mental development scores at 18 months, compared with 13% of nonexternalizing children. Avoidant attachment behavior in infancy was associated with later internalizing symptoms rather than with externalizing symptoms. The behavior problem data reported by mother suggested the possibility of attachment-related biases in maternal report data. The results indicate that child mental lag in the context of a disorganized attachment relationship constitutes 1 early step on the pathway to school-age externalizing behavior.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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