Child Psychiatry & Human Development

, Volume 51, Issue 1, pp 80–93 | Cite as

Associations of Birth Factors and Socio-Economic Status with Indicators of Early Emotional Development and Mental Health in Childhood: A Population-Based Linkage Study

  • Martin GuhnEmail author
  • Scott D. Emerson
  • Dorri Mahdaviani
  • Anne M. Gadermann
Original Article


Using a linked population-based database established on healthcare, socio-economic, and survey datasets in British Columbia, Canada, we examined how biological, socio-demographic, and socio-economic status (SES) factors at birth related to children’s emotional development and mental health. One analysis examined teacher-rated anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggression for kindergarten children (Mage = 5.7; n = 134,094). Another analysis examined administrative healthcare records comprising of physician-assigned diagnostic codes for mental health conditions (conduct disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety disorder and depression) from ages 5 through 15 (n = 89,404). Various factors at birth, including gestational age, birthweight, and maternal demographics, were related to emotional development and mental health in childhood. Across outcomes, low SES indicated detrimental associations with various aspects of children’s emotional development and mental health (e.g., adjusted odds of mental health conditions were 25–39% higher for children of low income families versus others). Findings reinforce evidence that poverty (reduction) is a primary public health issue.


Birth factors Perinatal Mental health Children Socio-economic status 



This study was partly supported by funding from the Lawson Foundation and by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have no conflicts of interest to declare.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. The University Research Ethics Board approved this study.


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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Early Learning Partnership, School of Population and Public HealthUniversity of British ColumbiaVancouverCanada

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