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Study protocol: families and childhood transitions study (FACTS) - a longitudinal investigation of the role of the family environment in brain development and risk for mental health disorders in community based children

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posted on 2017-06-30, 00:00 authored by J G Simmons, O S Schwartz, K Bray, C Deane, E Pozzi, S Richmond, J Smith, Nandi VijayakumarNandi Vijayakumar, M L Byrne, M L Seal, M B H Yap, N B Allen, S L Whittle
© 2017 The Author(s). Background: Extant research has demonstrated that parenting behaviour can be a significant contributor to the development of brain structure and mental health during adolescence. Nonetheless, there is limited research examining these relationships during late childhood, and particularly in the critical period of brain development occurring between 8 and 10 years of age. The effects of the family environment on the brain during late childhood may have significant implications for later functioning, and particularly mental health. The Families and Childhood Transitions Study (FACTS) is a multidisciplinary longitudinal cohort study of brain development and mental health, with two waves of data collection currently funded, occurring 18-months apart, when child participants are aged approximately 8- and 10-years old. Methods/design: Participants are 163 children (M age [SD] = 8.44 [0.34] years, 76 males) and their mothers (M age [SD] = 40.34 [5.43] years). Of the 163 families who consented to participate, 156 completed a video-recorded and observer-coded dyadic interaction task and 153 completed a child magnetic resonance imaging brain scan at baseline. Families were recruited from lower socioeconomic status (SES) areas to maximise rates of social disadvantage and variation in parenting behaviours. All experimental measures and tasks completed at baseline are repeated at an 18-month follow-up, excluding the observer coded family interaction tasks. The baseline assessment was completed in October 2015, and the 18-month follow up will be completed May 2017. Discussion: This study, by examining the neurobiological and mental health consequences of variations in parenting, has the potential to significantly advance our understanding of child development and risk processes. Recruitment of lower SES families will also allow assessment of resilience factors given the poorer outcomes often associated with this population.



BMC pediatrics






BioMed Central


London, Eng.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

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2017, The Authors