Limited validity of parental recall on pregnancy, birth and early childhood behaviour at child age 10 years
Objective.Evidence on the validity of parental recall of early childhood behaviour is lacking. Our aim was to examine the validity of parental recall at child age 10-12 for maternal lifestyle during pregnancy, birth characteristics and early childhood behaviour. Study Design and Setting. The study population comprised 2,230 children and their parents. Children were recruited from elementary schools at 10-12 years of age (response:76.0%). Parents were asked to recall lifestyle during pregnancy, birth characteristics, and childhood behaviour at age 4-6. Recalled data were compared with information registered by Preventive Child Healthcare (PCH) from birth onwards. Results. For birth weight and gestational age, we found no systematic difference between recalled and PCH registered data; 95% limits of agreement were ± 1.2 pounds (600 grammes) and ± 2.4 weeks respectively. For maternal alcohol use during pregnancy and early childhood behaviour problems, Cohen’s kappas were low (0.03-0.11). Compared to PCH-registration, parents tended to overreport at age 10-12. In contrast, kappa was high for maternal smoking during pregnancy (kappa: 0.77). Conclusion. Retrospectively collected information on lifestyle during pregnancy, birth and early childhood behaviour is sometimes biased, which limits its value in estimating the contribution of early life adversity to health in later life.