Research Projects Using Growing Up Data

Moderating factors for the development of early childhood behavioural problems and traumatic brain injury (TBICP)

Publication Date:
Lead Organisation:
Victoria University of Wellington
Lead Researcher:
Hedwig Eisenbarth
Access Type:
Primary Classification:
Family and Whanau
Secondary Classification:

Children and young people who show problematic behaviours have a higher prevalence of historic traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and are at higher risk for future traumatic brain injuries. A report from the Growing Up in New Zealand study showed that 38% of the 2-year-olds in the study and 19% of the 4.5-year-olds were reported by their caregiver to have experienced an injury to the head, and identified several risk factors for these injuries, including characteristics of the child themselves as well as whānau factors, such as the use of primary care, maternal care and societal factors such as experiences of discrimination and deprivation. Although these factors did not increase the risk of subsequent problematic behaviours, they overlap with risk and protective factors for conduct problems in children. Therefore, if these common risk factors for both can be identified, they can be addressed to reduce both head injury and conduct problems. While it might not be possible to reduce the risk for injuries to zero, it is crucial to reduce the risk for traumatic brain injuries in tamariki. Thus, we need to better understand how such injuries are related to problematic behaviour and what protective factors might reduce the risk for negative outcomes. Such injuries often lead to medical attention, and therefore provide opportunities to intervene for a better recovery. Understanding the relationship between traumatic brain injuries and conduct problems in the context of individual, whānau and societal variables considering protective and risk factors will allow to derive a multilevel-approach to prevention of conduct problems and related traumatic brain injuries for tamariki.