Melbourne School of Psychological Sciences - Research Publications

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    Study protocol: the Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS)
    Mundy, LK ; Simmons, JG ; Allen, NB ; Viner, RM ; Bayer, JK ; Olds, T ; Williams, J ; Olsson, C ; Romaniuk, H ; Mensah, F ; Sawyer, SM ; Degenhardt, L ; Alati, R ; Wake, M ; Jacka, F ; Patton, GC (BMC, 2013-10-08)
    BACKGROUND: Puberty is a multifaceted developmental process that begins in late-childhood with a cascade of endocrine changes that ultimately lead to sexual maturation and reproductive capability. The transition through puberty is marked by an increased risk for the onset of a range of health problems, particularly those related to the control of behaviour and emotion. Early onset puberty is associated with a greater risk of cancers of the reproductive tract and cardiovascular disease. Previous studies have had methodological limitations and have tended to view puberty as a unitary process, with little distinction between adrenarche, gonadarche and linear growth. The Childhood to Adolescence Transition Study (CATS) aims to prospectively examine associations between the timing and stage of the different hormonally-mediated changes, as well as the onset and course of common health and behavioural problems that emerge in the transition from childhood to adolescence. The initial focus of CATS is on adrenarche, the first hormonal process in the pubertal cascade, which begins for most children at around 8 years of age. METHODS/DESIGN: CATS is a longitudinal population-based cohort study. All Grade 3 students (8-9 years of age) from a stratified cluster sample of schools in Melbourne, Australia were invited to take part. In total, 1239 students and a parent/guardian were recruited to participate in the study. Measures are repeated annually and comprise student, parent and teacher questionnaires, and student anthropometric measurements. A saliva sample was collected from students at baseline and will be repeated at later waves, with the primary purpose of measuring hormonal indices of adrenarche and gonadarche. DISCUSSION: CATS is uniquely placed to capture biological and phenotypic indices of the pubertal process from its earliest manifestations, together with anthropometric measures and assessment of child health and development. The cohort will provide rich detail of the development, lifestyle, external circumstances and health of children during the transition from childhood through to adolescence. Baseline associations between the hormonal measures and measures of mental health and behaviour will initially be examined cross-sectionally, and then in later waves longitudinally. CATS will make a unique contribution to the understanding of adrenarche and puberty in children's health and development.
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    Development of a multi-dimensional measure of resilience in adolescents: the Adolescent Resilience Questionnaire
    Gartland, D ; Bond, L ; Olsson, CA ; Buzwell, S ; Sawyer, SM (BMC, 2011-10-05)
    BACKGROUND: The concept of resilience has captured the imagination of researchers and policy makers over the past two decades. However, despite the ever growing body of resilience research, there is a paucity of relevant, comprehensive measurement tools. In this article, the development of a theoretically based, comprehensive multi-dimensional measure of resilience in adolescents is described. METHODS: Extensive literature review and focus groups with young people living with chronic illness informed the conceptual development of scales and items. Two sequential rounds of factor and scale analyses were undertaken to revise the conceptually developed scales using data collected from young people living with a chronic illness and a general population sample. RESULTS: The revised Adolescent Resilience Questionnaire comprises 93 items and 12 scales measuring resilience factors in the domains of self, family, peer, school and community. All scales have acceptable alpha coefficients. Revised scales closely reflect conceptually developed scales. CONCLUSIONS: It is proposed that, with further psychometric testing, this new measure of resilience will provide researchers and clinicians with a comprehensive and developmentally appropriate instrument to measure a young person's capacity to achieve positive outcomes despite life stressors.
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    A 32-Year Longitudinal Study of Child and Adolescent Pathways to Well-Being in Adulthood
    Olsson, CA ; McGee, R ; Nada-Raja, S ; Williams, SM (Springer Nature, 2012)
    The purpose of the study was to investigate the relative importance of child and adolescent social and academic pathways to well-being in adulthood (32-years) indicated by a sense of meaning, social engagement, positive coping and prosocial values. Data were drawn from a 15 wave (32-year) longitudinal study of the health and development of around 1000 New Zealanders (Dunedin Multidisciplinary Health and Development Study, New Zealand). Moderate continuity in social connectedness (0.38) and high continuity in academic ability (0.90) was observed across childhood and adolescence. Adolescent social connectedness was a better predictor of adult well-being than academic achievement (0.62 vs. 0.12). There was evidence of an indirect pathway from adolescent academic achievement to adult well-being through social connectedness (0.29). Indicators of well-being in adulthood appear to be better explained by social connection rather than academic competencies pathways. Implications for promoting longer term well-being during the school years are discussed.
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    Perinatal maternal alcohol consumption and methylation of the dopamine receptor DRD4 in the offspring: the Triple B study
    Fransquet, PD ; Hutchinson, D ; Olsson, CA ; Wilson, J ; Allsop, S ; Najman, J ; Elliott, E ; Mattick, RP ; Saffery, R ; Ryan, J ; Alati, R ; Baylock, B ; Bell, L ; Bowey, E ; Bleeker, A ; Demirkol, A ; Eckstein, G ; Fergusson, D ; Gumbert, T ; Gunn, H ; Minnis, J ; O'Leary, C ; Palmer, V ; Pope, J ; Proudfoot, J ; Rainsford, C ; Ross, J ; Shand, F ; Sin, L ; Sunderland, M ; Swift, W ; Wilcock, S ; Young, J (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2016-12)
    Maternal alcohol use during the perinatal period is a major public health issue, the higher ends of which are associated with foetal alcohol spectrum disorder and a range of adverse health outcomes in the progeny. The underlying molecular mechanisms remain largely unknown but may include the epigenetic disruption of gene activity during development. Alcohol directly activates the neurotransmitter dopamine, which plays an essential role in neurodevelopment. To investigate whether antenatal and early postnatal alcohol consumption were associated with differential dopamine receptor DRD4 promoter methylation in infants (n = 844). Data were drawn from the large population based Triple B pregnancy cohort study, with detailed information on maternal alcohol consumption in each trimester of pregnancy and early postpartum. DNA was extracted from infant buccal swabs collected at 8-weeks. DRD4 promoter DNA methylation was analysed by Sequenom MassARRAY. No strong evidence was found for an association between alcohol consumption during pregnancy and infant DRD4 methylation at 8-weeks postpartum. However, maternal alcohol consumption assessed contemporaneously at 8-weeks postpartum was associated with increased methylation at 13 of 19 CpG units examined (largest Δ + 3.20%, 95%Confidence Interval:1.66,4.75%, P = 0.0001 at CpG.6). This association was strongest in women who breastfeed, suggesting the possibility of a direct effect of alcohol exposure via breast milk. The findings of this study could influence public health guidelines around alcohol consumption for breastfeeding mothers; however, further research is required to confirm these novel findings.
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    Associations between early adrenarche, affective brain function and mental health in children
    Whittle, S ; Simmons, JG ; Byrne, ML ; Strikwerda-Brown, C ; Kerestes, R ; Seal, ML ; Olsson, CA ; Dudgeon, P ; Mundy, LK ; Patton, GC ; Allen, NB (OXFORD UNIV PRESS, 2015-09)
    Early timing of adrenarche, associated with relatively high levels of Dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) in children, has been associated with mental health and behavioral problems. However, little is known about effects of adreneracheal timing on brain function. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of early adrenarche (defined by high DHEA levels independent of age) on affective brain function and symptoms of psychopathology in late childhood (N = 83, 43 females, M age 9.53 years, s.d. 0.34 years). Results showed that higher DHEA levels were associated with decreased affect-related brain activity (i) in the mid-cingulate cortex in the whole sample, and (ii) in a number of cortical and subcortical regions in female but not male children. Higher DHEA levels were also associated with increased externalizing symptoms in females, an association that was partly mediated by posterior insula activation to happy facial expressions. These results suggest that timing of adrenarche is an important moderator of affect-related brain function, and that this may be one mechanism linking early adrenarche to psychopathology.
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    Longitudinal Prediction of Mid-Adolescent Psychosocial Outcomes From Early Adolescent Family Help Seeking and Family Support
    Heerde, JA ; Toumbourou, JW ; Hemphill, SA ; Olsson, CA (WILEY, 2015-06)
    This study examined whether family help seeking and family support represented the same or distinct constructs and prospective associations between emergent constructs and psychosocial outcomes. Data were from 1,713 school‐based adolescents participating in a randomized controlled trial, in Victoria, Australia. Family help seeking emerged as a single factor, distinct from family support, and was prospectively associated with improved psychosocial outcomes. Father closeness predicted lower depressive symptoms. Family help seeking predicted higher help seeking for peers. Interactions between family help seeking and family support on psychosocial outcomes were not apparent. Findings highlight the importance of examining family help seeking and family support separately in future studies of adolescents' help‐seeking behavior.
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    ADOLESCENT SUBSTANCE USE AND EDUCATIONAL ATTAINMENT: AN INTEGRATIVE DATA ANALYSIS COMPARING CANNABIS AND ALCOHOL FROM THREE AUSTRALASIAN COHORTS
    Silins, E ; Fergusson, DM ; Patton, GC ; Horwood, LJ ; Olsson, CA ; Hutchinson, DM ; Degenhardt, L ; Tait, RJ ; Borschmann, R ; Coffey, C ; Toumbourou, J ; Najman, J ; Mattick, RP (WILEY-BLACKWELL, 2015-11)
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    Predictors of postnatal mother-infant bonding: the role of antenatal bonding, maternal substance use and mental health
    Rossen, L ; Hutchinson, D ; Wilson, J ; Burns, L ; Olsson, CA ; Allsop, S ; Elliott, EJ ; Jacobs, S ; Macdonald, JA ; Mattick, RP (SPRINGER WIEN, 2016-08)
    The emotional bond that a mother feels towards her baby is critical to social, emotional and cognitive development. Maternal health and wellbeing through pregnancy and antenatal bonding also play a key role in determining bonding postnatally, but the extent to which these relationships may be disrupted by poor mental health or substance use is unclear. This study aimed to examine the extent to which mother-fetal bonding, substance use and mental health through pregnancy predicted postnatal mother-infant bonding at 8 weeks. Participants were 372 women recruited from three metropolitan hospitals in Australia. Data was collected during trimesters one, two and three of pregnancy and 8 weeks postnatal using the Maternal Antenatal Attachment Scale (MAAS), Maternal Postnatal Attachment Scale (MPAS), the Edinburgh Antenatal and Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), the Depression and Anxiety Scales (DASS-21), frequency and quantity of substance use (caffeine, alcohol and tobacco) as well as a range of demographic and postnatal information. Higher antenatal bonding predicted higher postnatal bonding at all pregnancy time-points in a fully adjusted regression model. Maternal depressive symptoms in trimesters two and three and stress in trimester two were inversely related to poorer mother-infant bonding 8 weeks postnatally. This study extends previous work on the mother's felt bond to her developing child by drawing on a large sample of women and documenting the pattern of this bond at three time points in pregnancy and at 8 weeks postnatally. Utilising multiple antenatal waves allowed precision in isolating the relationships in pregnancy and at key intervention points. Investigating methods to enhance bonding and intervene in pregnancy is needed. It is also important to assess maternal mental health through pregnancy.
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    The effect of low parental warmth and low monitoring on disordered eating in mid-adolescence: Findings from the Australian Temperament Project
    Krug, I ; King, RM ; Youssef, GJ ; Sorabji, A ; Wertheim, EH ; Le Grange, D ; Hughes, EK ; Letcher, P ; Olsson, CA (ACADEMIC PRESS LTD- ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2016-10-01)
    OBJECTIVE: To investigate the interactions between low parental warmth and monitoring at age 13-14 years and disordered eating attitudes and behaviours at age 15-16 years. METHOD: Data on 1300 (667 females) adolescents and their parents were drawn from The Australian Temperament Project (ATP), a 30 year (15 wave) population based longitudinal study of social-emotional development. Parent participants completed surveys on parenting practices in late childhood, and adolescent participants reported disordered eating using the drive for thinness and bulimia subscales of the Eating Disorder Inventory (EDI) and an additional body dissatisfaction scale. Interaction was examined on the additive scale by estimating super-additive risk; i.e., risk in excess of the sum of individual risks. RESULTS: For boys, neither parental warmth or monitoring, nor their interaction, was related to disordered eating. For girls, low parental warmth (alone) was associated with bulimic behaviours. In contrast, exposure to both low monitoring and warmth was associated with ∼3½-fold, ∼4-fold and ∼5-fold increases in the odds of reporting body dissatisfaction, drive for thinness and bulimia, respectively. For body dissatisfaction and drive for thinness, risk associated with joint exposure exceeded the sum of individual risks, suggesting an additive interaction between parenting styles. CONCLUSION: Further investment in family-level interventions that focus on promoting parental monitoring behaviour and a warm parent-child relationship remain important strategies for preventing a range of disordered eating behaviours in adolescents.
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    Early origins of mental disorder - risk factors in the perinatal and infant period
    Newman, L ; Judd, F ; Olsson, CA ; Castle, D ; Bousman, C ; Sheehan, P ; Pantelis, C ; Craig, JM ; Komiti, A ; Everall, I (BMC, 2016-07-29)
    BACKGROUND: There is increasing understanding of the significance of early neurodevelopment in establishing risk for the range of mental disorders. Models of the early aetiology of mental disorders are complex with a range of potential factors from genetic and epigenetic to environmental influencing neurological and psychological development. Whilst the mechanisms are not fully understood, this paper provides an overview of potential biological and neurobiological factors that might be involved. METHOD: An aetiological model is presented and discussed. The discussion includes a range of risk factors for mental disorder. Maternal anxiety disorder is presented and reviewed as an example of the interaction of placental, epigenetic and early parenting factors elevating risk of poor neonatal outcome. RESULTS: Available evidence points to the importance of in-utero influences as well as the role of early attachment and emotional care. Transgenerational mechanisms such as the impact of maternal mental disorder on foetal development are important models for examination of early risk. Maternal anxiety, as an example, is a significant risk factor for compromised mental health. CONCLUSIONS: Development of models for understanding the early origins of mental disorder is an important step in elaborating risk reduction strategies. Comprehensive early identification of risk raises the possibility of preventive interventions.