Oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) is the most common psychiatric problem among young children; depression meeting DSM diagnostic criteria is uncommon in preschoolers, but depressive symptoms are not. In studies of depression and ODD among the entire age spectrum of childhood and adolescents, several family, maternal, and child characteristics, along with the mother-child interaction patterns have been identified as risk factors/correlates, with most characteristics seeming to be risk factors for both ODD and depression. While studies of the early origins of ODD exist, relatively few have examined onset of depressive symptoms in young children, and even fewer have examined the development of ODD/depression comorbidity. This study examines a model including family (conflict, stressors), maternal (depression), child (temperament, school academic competence, social skills problems, attentional problems), and interactional (mother-child interaction, temperament) variables that have received empirical support as precursors to the development of ODD and depression in a large (N=1130) group of children age 4 at study onset. Participants are recruited from public schools and primary care pediatric practices and followed across 3 annual waves of data collection. Overall model fit, and the role of specific variables in the development of ODD, depression, and their comorbidity will be examined for both parent and teacher-rated outcomes using primarily structured equation modeling techniques; additional analyses will examine clinical subgroups.
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