Now showing 1 - 6 of 6
  • Publication
    Early childhood intervention : rationale, timing, and efficacy
    (University College Dublin, Geary Institute, 2007-01) ; ; ;
    This paper provides a brief review of the economic rationale for investing in early childhood. It discusses the optimal timing of intervention, with reference to recent work in developmental neuroscience, and asks how early is early? It motivates the need for early intervention by providing an overview of the impact of adverse factors during the antenatal and early childhood period on outcomes later in life. Early childhood interventions, even poorly designed ones, are costly to implement, therefore it is vital that interventions are well-designed if they are to yield high economic and social returns. The paper therefore presents a set of guiding principles for the effectiveness of early intervention. It concludes by presenting a case for a new study of the optimal timing of interventions.
      1139
  • Publication
    Expressive language and prosocial behaviour in early childhood: Longitudinal associations in the UK Millennium Cohort Study
    Background: Early childhood is a crucial period for language development and building social skills. While distinct, these two processes may impact upon each other. Aims: The current study aimed to identify the directional associations between expressive language ability and prosocial behaviour between three and five years of age. Methods: Participants included 14, 004 children and their families enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (MCS). Children’s expressive language and prosocial behaviour were assessed at three and five years of age utilizing standardized assessments and parent reports. Cross-lagged models were used for data analysis. Results: Better expressive language at three years was associated with increased prosocial behaviour by five years. No support for the inverse direction of association was found. Conclusions: Children’s early ability to effectively express themselves with others may help in building better social relationships by entry into formal schooling. Programming efforts that are tailored towards enhancing positive behavioural growth and social skills in the toddler years are likely to be effective when expressive language is also a targeted component of the toddler’s skill development.
      1102Scopus© Citations 26
  • Publication
    Factors associated with breastfeeding initiation: A comparison between France and French-speaking Canada
    Background: Breastfeeding is associated with multiple domains of health for both mothers and children. Nevertheless, breastfeeding initiation is low within certain developed countries. Furthermore, comparative studies of initiation rates using harmonised data across multiple regions is scarce. Objective: The aim of the present study was to investigate and compare individual-level determinants of breastfeeding initiation using two French-speaking cohorts. Methods: Participants included ~ 3,900 mothers enrolled in two cohort studies in Canada and France. Interviews, questionnaires, and medical records were utilised to collect information on maternal, family, and medical factors associated with breastfeeding initiation. Results: Rates of breastfeeding initiation were similar across cohorts, slightly above 70%. Women in both Canada and France who had higher levels of maternal education, were born outside of their respective countries and who did not smoke during pregnancy were more likely to initiate breastfeeding with the cohort infant. Notably, cohort effects of maternal education at the university level were found, whereby having 'some university' was not statistically significant for mothers in France. Further, younger mothers in Canada, who delivered by caesarean section and who had previous children had reduced odds of breastfeeding initiation. These results were not found for mothers in France. Conclusions and Implications for Practice: While some similar determinants were observed, programming efforts to increase breastfeeding initiation should be tailored to the characteristics of specific geographical regions which may be heavily impacted by the social, cultural and political climate of the region, in addition to individual and family level factors.
      264Scopus© Citations 13
  • Publication
    Body mass index and height over three generations: evidence from the Lifeways cross-generational cohort study
    Background: Obesity and its measure of body mass index are strongly determined by parental body size. Debate continues as to whether both parents contribute equally to offspring body mass which is key to understanding the aetiology of the disease. The aim of this study was to use cohort data from three generations of one family to examine the relative maternal and paternal associations with offspring body mass index and how these associations compare with family height to demonstrate evidence of genetic or environmental cross-generational transmission. Methods: 669 of 1082 families were followed up in 2007/8 as part of the Lifeways study, a prospective observational cross-generation linkage cohort. Height and weight were measured in 529 Irish children aged 5 to 7 years and were self-reported by parents and grandparents. All adults provided information on self-rated health, education status, and indicators of income, diet and physical activity. Associations between the weight, height, and body mass index of family members were examined with mixed models and heritability estimates computed using linear regression analysis. Results: Self-rated health was associated with lower BMI for all family members, as was age for children. When these effects were accounted for evidence of familial associations of BMI from one generation to the next was more apparent in the maternal line. Heritability estimates were higher (h2 = 0.40) for mother-offspring pairs compared to father-offspring pairs (h2 = 0.22). In the previous generation, estimates were higher between mothersparents (h2 = 0.54-0.60) but not between fathers-parents (h2 = -0.04-0.17). Correlations between mother and offspring across two generations remained significant when modelled with fixed variables of socioeconomic status, health, and lifestyle. A similar analysis of height showed strong familial associations from maternal and paternal lines across each generation. Conclusions: This is the first family cohort study to report an enduring association between mother and offspring BMI over three generations. The evidence of BMI transmission over three generations through the maternal line in an observational study corroborates the findings of animal studies. A more detailed analysis of geno and phenotypic data over three generations is warranted to understand the nature of this maternal-offspring relationship.
      325Scopus© Citations 81
  • Publication
    Developmental Associations between Conduct Problems and Expressive Language in Early Childhood: A Population-Based Study
    Conduct problems have been associated with poor language development, however the direction of this association in early childhood remains unclear. This study examined the longitudinal directional associations between conduct problems and expressive language ability. Children enrolled in the UK Millennium Cohort Study (N = 14, 004; 50.3 % boys) were assessed at 3 and 5 years of age. Parent reports of conduct problems and standardised assessments of expressive language were analyzed using cross-lagged modeling. Conduct problems at 3 years was associated with poorer expressive language at 5 years and poorer expressive language at 3 years was associated with increased conduct problems by 5 years. The results support reciprocal associations, rather than a specific unidirectional path, which is commonly found with samples of older children. The emergence of problems in either domain can thus negatively impact upon the other over time, albeit the effects were modest. Studies examining the effects of intervention targeting conduct problems and language acquisition prior to school entry may be warranted in testing the efficacy of prevention programmes related to conduct problems and poor language ability early in childhood.
      566Scopus© Citations 38
  • Publication
    Physical Aggression and Language Ability from 17 to 72 months: Cross-lagged Effects in a Population Sample
    Background: Does poor language ability in early childhood increase the likelihood of physical aggression or is language ability delayed by frequent physical aggression? This study examined the longitudinal associations between physical aggression and language ability from toddlerhood to early childhood in a population sample while controlling for parenting behaviours, non-verbal intellectual functioning, and children's sex. Methods: Children enrolled in the Quebec Longitudinal Study of Child Development (QLSCD) (N = 2, 057) were assessed longitudinally from 17 to 72 months via parent reports and standardized assessments. Results: The cross-lagged models revealed modest reciprocal associations between physical aggression and language performance from 17 to 41 months but not thereafter. Conclusions: Significant associations between physical aggression and poor language ability are minimal and limited to the period when physical aggression and language performance are both substantially increasing. During that period parenting behaviours may play an important role in supporting language ability while reducing the frequency of physical aggression. Further studies are needed that utilize multiple assessments of physical aggression, assess multiple domains of language abilities, and that examine the potential mediating role of parenting behaviours between 12 and 48 months.
      201Scopus© Citations 26