For clinically referred children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) or Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) several early indicators have been described. However, knowledge is lacking on early markers of less severe variants of ASD and ADHD from the general population. The aim of the present study is to identify early indicators of high risk groups for ASD and ADHD problems based on routine data from community pediatric services between infancy and age four. Data are from 1,816 participants who take part in Tracking Adolescents’ Individual Lives Survey (TRAILS), a longitudinal study. Information on early developmental factors was extracted from charts of routine Preventive Child Healthcare (PCH) visits. To assess ASD and ADHD problems, respectively, we used the Children’s Social Behavior Questionnaire (CSBQ) and the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL), filled out by parents three times between the ages of 11 and 17. Note that these are parent ratings and no diagnostic instruments performed by trained clinicians. Male gender, low birth weight, low level of education of the mother, social, behavioral, language, psychomotor and eating problems significantly predicted ASD problems (odds ratios (OR) between 1.34 and 2.41). ADHD problems were also predicted by male gender and low level of education of the mother and by maternal smoking during pregnancy, good gross motor skills in first year, early attention and hyperactivity problems, and absence of parent- reported positive behavior (ORs between 1.36 and 1.74). Routine data on early childhood from PCH services are predictive for ASD and ADHD problems in adolescents in the general population. The PCH services are a useful setting to identify high risk groups, and to monitor them subsequently.
Background. Although a great deal of evidence is available on the patterns and determinants of unmet health care needs among adolescents with mental health problems, little is known about the factors that influence the need for care. The aim of this study is to assess the occurrence of need for care for mental problems in adolescents and the determinants of this need. Methods. Data were obtained from three assessment waves of TRAILS (TRacking Adolescents' Individual Lives Survey) (N = 1406). Need for care was assessed at age 16/17 (parent report). Determinants concerned previous health care utilization, emotional and behavioral problems (child behavior checklist and youth self-report) and child and family characteristics. Results. Of the 1406 parents, 409 parents (29%) reported that their child needed help for mental problems. Of these adolescents, only 29% received specialized mental health treatment. The determinants of need for mental health care at age 16/17 were family break-up and parental internalizing problems (age 10/11), parent-reported internalizing and externalizing (age 10/11 and 13/14) and receiving specialized help (age 13/14). Conclusion. A substantial proportion of all adolescents need care for their mental problems, according to their parent. There is also a large group of adolescents with mental health problems according to their parents, but for whom no parental reported need for care is expressed. The findings stress the importance of early interventions focusing on raising parental and child awareness of mental health problems.