229774 Low maternal education as a unique and general risk factor for developmental delays in preschoolers: Population-based estimates

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 10:45 AM - 11:00 AM

Paul L. Morgan, PhD , Educational Psychology, School Psychology, and Special Education, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Marianne M. Hillemeier, PhD, MPH , Health Policy and Administration, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
George Farkas, PhD , University of California, Irvine, Irvine, CA
Steven A. Maczuga, MS , Population Research Institute, Pennsylvania State University, University Park, PA
Lower maternal education is thought to increase a preschooler's risk of developmental delays. However, prior studies have used small convenience samples of children and often lack controls for gestational, birth, and socio-demographic confounds. To better estimate maternal education as a risk factor, we used a large nationally representative cohort sample of children (N= 6,825) participating in the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study Birth Cohort (ECLS-B). Data on risk factors collected at 24 months of age were used to predict the occurrence of delays by 48 months. Pre-academic delays were operationalized as displaying very low scores on standardized measures of expressive or receptive language, literacy, or mathematics at 48 months. Behavioral delays were operationalized as very low scores on standardized measures of impulsivity, inattention, a lack of task persistence, or distractibility at 48 months. Logistic regression analysis indicated that children whose mothers had low education levels were consistently more likely to display language, literacy, mathematics, and behavioral delays than children of mothers with high education levels. This effect of maternal education was linear, such that increases in a mother's education level consistently predicted decreases in a child's risk for pre-academic or behavioral delays. The relationship held after statistically controlling for low household income, cognitive delay at 24 months, low birthweight or prematurity, congenital anomalies, talking delay, and other gestational, birth, and socio-demographic risk factors. These results indicate that low maternal education is both a unique and general risk factor for developmental delays, and so should be a primary target of intervention efforts.

Learning Areas:
Other professions or practice related to public health
Public health or related education
Public health or related research
Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
1. Learners will be able to explain the extent to which low maternal education is a risk factor for developmental delays in young children. 2. Learners will be able to contrast the predicted effects of low maternal education for developmental delays to other risk factors (e.g., gestational, birth, and other socio-demographic risk factors)

Keywords: Child Health, Epidemiology

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have no conflict of interest, and have developed this study with objectivity, scientific rigor, and free from bias
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.