BACKGROUND: Mental disorder in childhood is an important public health issue. We aimed to examine the prospective association between parental education at childbirth and diagnosed mental disorders in young children and explore whether this association was mediated or modified by parent-child relations in infancy.
METHODS: Prospective cohort study of all newborn was from 2002 to 2010 from 16 municipalities in the capital region of Copenhagen, Denmark, with follow-up until their 8th birthday, N = 40 762. Baseline data included information from national population registers and from health visitors' records at child aged 0 to 10 months. Outcome variable: any mental disorder diagnosed at hospital from age 11 months to 8 years.
RESULTS: Low parental education was predictive of diagnosed child mental disorder, adjusted odds ratio (AOR) = 1.83 (95% CI 1.49-2.23). Problematic parent-child relation at age 8-10 months was also predictive of mental disorder, AOR = 2.06 (1.57-2.70) but did not mediate the association between parental education and mental disorder. AOR for mental disorders was 3.24 (2.03-5.16 for the combination vocational training and problematic parent-child relation and 2.49 (1.42-4.38) for the combination primary school and problematic parent-child relation.
CONCLUSIONS: Low parental education and problematic parent-child relation were independent risk factors for diagnosed mental disorders in the age span of 11 months to 8 years.