Washington, Feb 21 (ANI): Researchers have highlighted the importance of callous-unemotional traits (CU) in identifying children at risk of antisocial behavior and other adjustment problems.
Indiana University Bloomington faculty member Nathalie M.G. Fontaine, finds that the emergence of CU traits in childhood is in most cases influenced by genetic factors, especially in boys. However, environmental factors appear to be more significant for the small number of girls who exhibit high levels of CU traits.
In this first longitudinal study employing a group-based analysis to examine the connection between childhood trajectories of CU traits and conduct problems, researchers found that high levels of both CU traits and conduct problems were associated with negative child and family factors at age 4 and with behavioral problems at age 12.
CU traits, such as a lack of emotion and a lack of empathy or guilt, are exhibited by a small number of children and are associated with persistent conduct problems, which are experienced by 5 percent to 10 percent of children.
"The children with high levels of both CU traits and conduct problems between ages 7 to 12 were likely to present negative predictors and outcomes, including hyperactivity problems and living in a chaotic home environment," said Fontaine, assistant professor of criminal justice in the College of Arts and Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington.
"If we could identify those children early enough, we could help them as well as their families."
The AAAS presentation combines findings from two articles, one published in July 2010 in the Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the other to be published online by the Journal of Abnormal Psychology.
Research presented their finding this week at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (ANI)