Aggressive Behaviors in Preschool Children Linked To Later Conduct Disorders

Ji Su Hong, MD  Department of Psychiatry Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, Interview with:
Ji Su Hong, MD 
Department of Psychiatry
Washington University School of Medicine St. Louis, MO


Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Ji Su Hong: The estimated prevalence of preschool conduct disorder is 3.9%-6.6%. Approximately 1 out of 20 preschoolers has conduct disorder. Disruptive behaviors are common in the preschool period of development. However, to date we have not had scientific data to help guide clinicians to distinguish  between normal disruptive behaviors in preschoolers and behaviors that are markers of later Conduct disorder at school age.

There were common misbehaviors which were found in preschoolers with mental health problems as well as healthy preschoolers. Those were losing temper, low intensity destruction of property and deceitfulness/stealing.

Preschoolers who exhibited high-intensity defiant behavior, aggression toward people or animals, high-intensity destruction of property, peer problems and deceitfulness, including stealing, were more likely to have preschool conduct disorder and they were more likely to be diagnosed with a conduct disorder at school-age.

Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?

Dr. Ji Su Hong: If a preschooler displays common normative misbehaviors, parents and clinicians may not need worry and can expect these behaviors are normative and likely to be transient.

If a preschooler displays high-pitched disruptive behaviors, these are red flags and clinicians and parents need to take them seriously. These kids probably need to be referred to mental health professional for further evaluation and possible early intervention.

Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Dr. Ji Su Hong: We will need more information from future research to clarify which disruptive behaviors in the preschool period increases risk for conduct disorder and antisocial behaviors in adolescence and adulthood. We will also need information about how early evaluation and intervention changes developmental trajectory of those kids.


Disruptive Behavior in Preschool Children: Distinguishing Normal Misbehavior from Markers of Current and Later Childhood Conduct Disorder
Ji S. Hong, MDRebecca Tillman, MS, Joan L. Luby, MD
The Journal of Pediatrics
Available online 15 January 2015

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