PROFILES OF INFANT REGULATION: ASSOCIATIONS WITH CHILD SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL OUTCOMES IN A LARGE, PROSPECTIVE, COMMUNITY COHORT

Oral Session 2
Saturday, April 28, 2018 | 4:00pm-5:30pm | Room 342B

4:30pm-4:45pm
PROFILES OF INFANT REGULATION: ASSOCIATIONS WITH CHILD SOCIAL, EMOTIONAL AND BEHAVIOURAL OUTCOMES IN A LARGE, PROSPECTIVE, COMMUNITY COHORT

Authors:
Fallon Cook (Australia)*
Rebecca Giallo (Australia)
Harriet Hiscock (Australia)
Fiona Mensah (Australia)
Katherine Sanchez (Australia)
Sheena Reilly (Australia)

Introduction

Prior research has shown an association between infant regulatory problems (namely sleeping and crying problems) and later childhood social, emotional and behavioural problems. However, the influence of other facets of infant regulation on this association, such as infant feeding problems, tantrums and mood swings, has not been considered. Examining these facets together, we aimed to (1) identify unique profiles of infant regulatory behaviour, and (2) examine the social, emotional and behavioural outcomes for each profile at 5 and 11 years of age.

Materials and methods

Data were drawn from a longitudinal, community cohort (the Early Language in Victoria Study, Melbourne, Australia). Sociodemographic data were gathered from mothers at infant age 8-10 months (wave 1, n=1759), data on infant regulation (sleeping, crying, feeding, temper tantrums, mood swings and global temperament) and maternal mental health were gathered at infant age 12 months (wave 2, n=1759) and mothers completed the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ) at child ages 5 (wave 6, n=1002) and 11 years (wave 10, n=871).

Results

Latent Class Analysis identified 5 unique profiles: a severely unsettled group (3.35%), a moderately unsettled group (13.19%), a sleep problems group (25.36%, with predominant sleep issues), a tantrums group (21.32%, with predominant tantrum issues), and a typical group (36.78%, with very few problems). Adjusted linear regression revealed that at 5 years of age the severely unsettled group, in comparison to the typical group, had more emotional symptoms (adjusted mean difference (aMD) .83, 95% confidence interval [CI] .22 to 1.43, p=.01), conduct problems (aMD .97, 95% CI .38 to 1.56, p<.01), hyperactivity (aMD 1.51, 95% CI .63 to 2.39, p<.01) and total difficulties (aMD 3.65, 95% CI 1.87 to 5.42, p<.01). At 11 years of age these differences were even more pronounced with the severely unsettled group reporting more emotional symptoms (aMD .83, 95% CI .22 to 1.43, p=.01), conduct problems (aMD .89, 95% CI .31 to 1.47, p<.01), hyperactivity (aMD 1.83, 95% CI .84 to 2.83, p<.01), peer problems (aMD .89, 95% CI .24 to 1.55, p=.01) and total difficulties (aMD 5.42, 95% CI 3.10 to 7.74, p<.01). In addition, the moderately unsettled, sleep problem and tantrum groups each reported poorer outcomes than the typical group on several SDQ subscales at 5 and 11 years of age.

Conclusions

In this study, around 3% of infants had multiple severe regulatory problems, placing them at increased risk for poorer social, emotional and behavioural outcomes during childhood. When parents seek help for infant sleep problems, clinicians should enquire regarding the presence and severity of other infant regulatory problems and if necessary, offer referral to appropriate support services.

Acknowledgements

We thank the Maternal and Child Health nurses and ELVS participants who generously donated their time to this study.