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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1998 Dec;37(12):1255-61.

Psychiatric disorders with onset in the preschool years: II. Correlates and predictors of stable case status.

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  • 1Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, IL 60614, USA.



To examine the correlates and predictors of stability and change in psychiatric disorder occurring among preschool children in a nonpsychiatric, primary care pediatric sample.


Five hundred ten children aged 2 through 5 years were enrolled; 344 participated in a third wave of data collection 42 through 48 months later. Consensus diagnoses were assigned using best-estimate procedures; variables of maternal psychopathology, family climate, and life stresses were the correlates/predictors studied.


For children who were cases initially, family cohesion predicted diagnostic stability. Among initial noncases, those remaining noncases experienced increased family cohesion; for those who later became cases, family cohesion declined. Negative life events declined when children were consistently noncases. Children who were initially noncases but were cases at the two subsequent waves had the highest levels of maternal negative affect. Predictors at wave 1 for wave 2 cases status included lower socioeconomic status, less family cohesiveness, and greater family inhibition/control. Wave 2 correlates of wave 2 status included older children and negative life events. Wave 2 predictors of wave 3 status included being older, while wave 3 correlates of wave 3 case status included older children and higher maternal negative affect.


Family context contributes to the maintenance and onset of problems beginning in the preschool years.

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