How do early-life factors explain social inequalities in adolescent mental health? Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study



Straatmann, Vivianne, Lai, Eric, Lange, Theis, Campbell, Melisa Claire, Wickham, Sophie, Nybo Andersen, Anne-Marie, Strandberg-Larsen, Katrine and Taylor-Robinson, David ORCID: 0000-0002-5828-7724
(2019) How do early-life factors explain social inequalities in adolescent mental health? Findings from the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 73 (11). 1049 - 1060.

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Abstract

Background Reducing inequalities in adolescent mental health is a public health priority, yet the pathways that link social conditions to mental health outcomes in the early years are unclear. We aimed to evaluate the extent to which early years risk factors explain social inequalities in adolescent mental health in the UK. Methods We analysed data from 6509 children captured in the UK Millennium Cohort Study. Mental health was assessed through the socioemotional behavioural problems at age 14 (Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire). The main exposure was maternal education at birth, used as a measure of childhood socioeconomic conditions (SECs), and used to calculate the relative index of inequality. Using causal mediation analysis, we assessed how perinatal, individual child, family, peer relation and neighbourhood-level factors measured up to age 3-mediated the total effect (TE) of SECs on adolescent socioemotional behavioural problems, estimating the proportion mediated and natural indirect effect (NIE) via each block of mediators, and all mediators together. Results Children of mothers with no qualification were almost four times as likely to have socioemotional behavioural problems compared with degree plus level (relative risk (RR) 3.82, 95% CI 2.48 to 5.88). Overall, 63.9% (95% CI 50.2% to 77.6%) (NIE RR 1.97, 95% CI 1.63 to 2.37) of the TE (RR 4.40, 95% CI 3.18 to 6.07) of social inequalities on risk of adolescent socioemotional behavioural problems was mediated by early-life factors. Conclusions About two-thirds of the social inequality in adolescent mental health was explained by early risk factors measured by age 3, highlighting the importance of public health interventions in this period.

Item Type: Article
Depositing User: Symplectic Admin
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2019 13:23
Last Modified: 20 Jan 2022 06:11
DOI: 10.1136/jech-2019-212367
Open Access URL: https://jech.bmj.com/content/jech/early/2019/09/05...
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URI: https://livrepository.liverpool.ac.uk/id/eprint/3057025

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