Effects of Infant Temperament and Early Intervention on the Psychiatric Symptoms of Adolescents

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Abstract

Objective

To evaluate effects of infant temperament traits and early home-based intervention on psychiatric symptoms in adolescence.

Method

The sample comprised 100 children born in 1975–1976. The families of 54 children received family counseling during the first 5 years of the child's life (10 times/year); 46 children served as a control group for counseling. At age 6 months the infants' temperament traits were evaluated by the Carey Infant Temperament Questionnaire filled out by the mother. At age 14 to 15 years the psychiatric symptoms of the adolescents were assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist and the Youth Self-Report.

Results

A fussy/demanding temperament in infancy was found to predict psychiatric symptoms in adolescence. A family counseling program during infancy protected subjects from developing psychiatric symptoms in adolescence.

Conclusions

It may be possible to improve the psychosocial prognosis of children at temperamental risk by home-based intervention focused on parent-child interaction. J. Am. Acad. Child Adolesc. Psychiatry, 1998, 37(10):1070–1076.

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