Mild cognitive impairment in early life and mental health problems in adulthood

Chuan Yu Chen, John P. Lawlor, Anne K Duggan, Janet B. Hardy, William W Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Objectives. We assessed the extent to which borderline mental retardation and mental retardation at preschool ages are related to emotional and behavioral problems in young adulthood. We also explored early risk factors for having mental health problems as a young adult that might be related to preschool differences in cognitive ability. Methods. We used data from a cohort of births studied in the Johns Hopkins Collaborative Perinatal Study and followed up in the Pathways to Adulthood Study. Preschool cognitive functioning was assessed at 4 years of age. Individual characteristics, psychosocial factors, and mental problems were prospectively evaluated from birth through young adulthood. Results. Children with subaverage cognitive abilities were more likely to develop mental health problems than their counterparts with IQs above 80. Inadequate family interactions were shown to increase 2- to 4-fold the risk of emotional or behavioral problems among children with borderline mental retardation. Conclusions. Subaverage cognitive functioning in early life increases later risk of mental health problems. Future research may help to delineate possible impediments faced at different developmental stages and guide changes in supportive services to better address the needs of children with borderline mental retardation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1772-1778
Number of pages7
JournalAmerican Journal of Public Health
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2006


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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