Children Born with Very Low Birth Weight : The Relationship between Internalizing and Externalizing Problems, Social Competence and Loneliness
Jääskeläinen, Saara (2017-11-14)
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Very low birth weight and very preterm birth are risk factors for many adverse developmental outcomes. Although it is well recognized that preterm birth increases the risk for diverse emotional and behavioral problems, less is known about premature children’s perception of their peer relations and experience of loneliness. This study examined the effects of parent-reported internalizing and externalizing problems at the age of four on self-reported social competence and loneliness at the age of eleven. This study is part of the multidisciplinary prospective follow-up PIPARI-study in Turku, Finland. The sample consisted of 131 children born with very low birth weight (< 1501 g) or below the gestational age of 32 weeks. Internalizing and externalizing problems were measured when the children were four years of age using the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL). Social competence was assessed using the Multisource Assessment of Children’s Social Competence Scale (MASCS). Emotional and social loneliness was assessed using the Peer Network and Dyadic Loneliness Scale (PNDLS). The participants filled the questionnaire of MASCS and PNDLS themselves at the age of eleven. The effects of internalizing and externalizing problems at the age of four on social competence and loneliness were studied with multinomial logistic regression. The results indicated that parent-reported internalizing problems at the age of four increased the risk for self-reported impulsive behavior and emotional loneliness at the age of eleven. The results of this study suggest that these problems might be explained by internalizing and externalizing problems as early as four years of age. It is essential that the knowledge of the effects of internalizing and externalizing problems on social competence and loneliness will be utilized when considering interventions and trying to identify at-risk children from the very low birth weight children. Further research is needed to examine the subject more thoroughly.