New research sheds light on how mental health problems in childhood may persist into adulthood

According to new research in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, children who develop mental health problems early in life may be at a higher risk of mental illness later into adulthood.

As part of a systematic review, experts with the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute identified and analyzed 40 studies that examined the mental health of subjects during childhood and adulthood.

“In this systematic review we evaluate the current state of knowledge of how childhood exposure to mental health problems is associated with adult mental disorders using data from prospective longitudinal studies,” the authors proclaimed in their study.

“We identified 40 studies that assessed mental health in childhood or adolescence and reassessed adults for mental disorders.”

Researchers were able to establish with a certain degree of confidence that mental health problems before reaching the age of 14 may be associated with an increased risk of mental illness in adulthood.

The strongest association with adult illness was attributed to elevated symptoms in childhood rather than diagnosis.

“These findings provide strong support for the argument that prevention needs to be targeted to children in the primary school years and early intervention efforts to those who are beginning to experience elevated symptoms rather than waiting until a diagnosable disorder is evident,” the research team concluded.

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