Parental and social factors in relation to child psychopathology, behavior, and cognitive function

Parental and social factors have a long-term impact on the neurodevelopment of offspring but tend to highly covary with each other. Thus, it is difficult to parse out which parental and social factor contributes most to neurodevelopmental outcomes. This study aimed to assess clusters of parental and social factors associated with child psychopathology, behavioral problems, and cognition. This study employed the data of 11,875 children (9 to 11 years) from the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development (ABCD) study. Principal component analysis (PCA) was performed on 39 environmental measures and 30 child behavior and cognitive measures separately to identify clusters of parental and social factors and clusters of child psychopathology, behavior, and cognition. Regression analysis was used to examine the independent effects of each cluster of parental and social factors on child psychopathology, behavioral problems, and cognition. Greater Parent Psychopathology cluster was associated with the greater Child Psychopathology cluster. Moreover, greater Socioeconomic Status cluster was associated with greater child General Cognition and Executive Function but less Behavioral Inhibition clusters. Greater Proximal Social Environment and Interaction cluster were associated with less child Impulsive Behavior and Behavioral Inhibition, but greater Behavioral Activation cluster. The environmental clusters related to birth outcomes, maternal tobacco, and drug use were not significantly related to child psychopathology, behavior, and cognition. Our findings suggest that socioeconomic status, parental psychopathology, and social environment and interactions are the strongest risks for behavioral problems and cognitive performance in a general child population. Intervention programs should target modifiable factors within these domains.

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About Giorgio Bertini

Research Professor. Founder Director at Learning Change Project - Research on society, culture, art, neuroscience, cognition, critical thinking, intelligence, creativity, autopoiesis, self-organization, rhizomes, complexity, systems, networks, leadership, sustainability, thinkers, futures ++
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