A longitudinal study of childhood risk factors for hospitalization under a depression related diagnosis
Heringa, Marcia Sue
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A number of prenatal, early childhood, and middle childhood factors were studied to determine their utility for predicting hospitalization for depression. Data were acquired from the Helsinki Longitudinal Temperament Project, an ongoing longitudinal study of a Finnish birth cohort (N = 6401) that includes temperament, medical, and demographic data. The present study focuses on the 61 members of the birth cohort who were hospitalized under a depression related diagnosis (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, bipolar disorder, or adjustment disorder/brief depressive reaction) prior to the age of 23. Specifically, prenatal smoking, fever, and nausea; infant and preschool temperament; age 12 behavior problems; maternal hospitalization history; and demographic data were analyzed. Temperament was assessed with Finnish versions of the Carey Infant Temperament Scale, the Thomas, Chess, and Korn Temperament Questionnairre (preschool), and behavior problems with the Lambert-Hartsough-Wrede Adjustment Difficulty Scale (Age 12 behavior problems). Chi-square analyses revealed gender, birth order, and maternal hospitalization for blood disorder, digestive problems, accidents, and pscyhosis to be significant predictors of hospitalization for depression. Temperament and behavior problems are discussed in terms of trends as data were available for an insufficient number of subjects to perform the analyses. More subjects than expected had deviations from average on one or more temperament scales. Independently, the Fussy/Demandingness infant scale and the preschool Negative Emotionality and Lack of Task Persistence scales appear to predict hospitalization for depression. Suggestions for further research involving larger sample sizes and formulating maternal hospitalization profiles of at-risk children are offered.