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Importance of accounting for sibling age when examining the association between family size and early childhood cognition, language and emotional behaviour: a birth cohort study

Symeonides, Christos, Vuillermin, Peter J, Sciberras, Emma, Senn, Elizabeth, Thomson, Sarah M, Wardrop, Nicole, Anderson, Vicki, Pezic, Angela, Sly, Peter D and Ponsonby, Anne-Louise 2021, Importance of accounting for sibling age when examining the association between family size and early childhood cognition, language and emotional behaviour: a birth cohort study, BMJ open, vol. 11, no. 3, pp. 1-13, doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-041984.

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Title Importance of accounting for sibling age when examining the association between family size and early childhood cognition, language and emotional behaviour: a birth cohort study
Author(s) Symeonides, Christos
Vuillermin, Peter JORCID iD for Vuillermin, Peter J orcid.org/0000-0002-6580-0346
Sciberras, EmmaORCID iD for Sciberras, Emma orcid.org/0000-0003-2812-303X
Senn, Elizabeth
Thomson, Sarah M
Wardrop, Nicole
Anderson, Vicki
Pezic, Angela
Sly, Peter D
Ponsonby, Anne-Louise
Journal name BMJ open
Volume number 11
Issue number 3
Article ID e041984
Start page 1
End page 13
Total pages 13
Publisher BMJ Publishing Group
Place of publication London, Eng.
Publication date 2021-03
ISSN 2044-6055
2044-6055
Keyword(s) epidemiology
paediatrics
public health
General & Internal Medicine
Life Sciences & Biomedicine
Medicine, General & Internal
Science & Technology
Summary Objectives Larger sibships are associated with poorer cognitive and language outcomes but have different impacts on child emotional development. Previous studies have not taken into account sibling age, nor have impacts across multiple neurodevelopmental domains been considered in the same participant group. This study investigated the influence of family size indicators on early childhood cognitive, language and emotional-behavioural development. The effect of sibling age was considered by evaluating these relationships separately for different sibling age categories.Design Prospective birth cohort study. Setting Participants in the Barwon Infant Study were recruited from two major hospitals in the Barwon region of Victoria, Australia, between 2010 and 2013 (n=1074 children). Participants The 755 children with any neurodevelopmental data at age 2–3 years excluding twins and those with an acquired neurodisability. Outcome measures Cognitive and language development was assessed using the Bayley Scales of Infant and Toddler Development, Third Edition, and emotional-behavioural development was measured with the Child Behaviour Checklist for Ages 1½−5. Results Greater household size was associated with a reduced cognitive development score (adjusted mean difference (AMD) −0.66 per extra household member; 95% CI −0.96 to –0.37; p<0.001) without age-specific differences. However, poorer expressive language was only observed for exposure to siblings between 2–6 and 6–10 years older. Having siblings 2–6 years older was associated with less internalising behaviour (AMD −2.1 per sibling; 95% CI −3.1 to –1.0; p<0.001). These associations persisted after multiple comparison adjustment. Conclusions The influence of siblings on early childhood development varies substantially by sibling age and the neurodevelopmental outcome under study. Although family size alone appears important for cognitive development, age-specific findings emphasise the importance of sibling interaction in early childhood expressive language development and emotional behaviour.
Language eng
DOI 10.1136/bmjopen-2020-041984
Indigenous content off
Field of Research 1103 Clinical Sciences
1117 Public Health and Health Services
1199 Other Medical and Health Sciences
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Free to Read? Yes
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30149692

Document type: Journal Article
Collections: Faculty of Health
School of Medicine
Open Access Collection
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Every reasonable effort has been made to ensure that permission has been obtained for items included in DRO. If you believe that your rights have been infringed by this repository, please contact drosupport@deakin.edu.au.