Deakin University

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Infant inflammation predicts childhood emotional and behavioral problems and partially mediates socioeconomic disadvantage

journal contribution
posted on 2022-10-27, 21:44 authored by C Pham, S Bekkering, Martin O'HelyMartin O'Hely, D Burgner, S Thomson, Peter VuillerminPeter Vuillermin, F Collier, Wolf MarxWolf Marx, T Mansell, C Symeonides, Peter Sly, M L K Tang, R Saffery, A L Ponsonby
Background: Emotional and behavioral problems (EBP) are common in children. Environmental factors like socioeconomic disadvantage influence EBP pathogenesis and can trigger inflammation. However, the link between early inflammation-EBP in children is unclear. We investigated the associations between i) infant inflammatory biomarkers and subsequent EBP and ii) early life environmental factors and EBP and assessed whether infant inflammation mediated these associations. Methods: Inflammatory biomarkers glycoprotein acetyls (GlycA) and high-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hsCRP) were quantified at birth and 12 months in a population–derived birth cohort, the Barwon Infant Study. Early life factors including demographic, prenatal, and perinatal factors were collected from antenatal to the two-year period. Internalizing and externalizing problems at age two were measured by the Child Behavior Checklist. Prospective associations were examined by multivariable regression analyses adjusted for potential confounders. Indirect effects of early life factors on EBP through inflammation were identified using mediation analyses. Results: Elevated GlycA levels at birth (GlycAbirth) were associated with greater internalizing problems at age two (β = 1.32 per SD increase in GlycA; P = 0.001). Inflammation at birth had a stronger magnitude of effect with later EBP than at 12 months. GlycAbirth partially mediated the associations between lower household income (6%), multiparity (12%) and greater number of older siblings (13%) and EBP. Patterns were less evident for hsCRP or externalizing problems. Conclusions: GlycAbirth was positively associated with EBP at age two and partially mediated the association between several indicators of socioeconomic disadvantage and EBP. Prenatal and perinatal inflammation may be relevant to early neurodevelopment and emotional health.



Brain, Behavior, and Immunity




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