NSW-CDS Publications

  • Laurens, K.R., Tzoumakis, S., Kariuki, M., Green, M.J., Hamde, M., Harris, F., Carr, V.J., Dean, K. (2017). Pervasive influence of maternal and paternal criminal offending on early childhood development: A population data linkage study. Psychological Medicine, 47(5), 889-901.

This report examined the impact of parental criminal offending on developmental outcomes at age 5 years. Data from the Australian Early Development Census, a teacher-reported assessment of childhood development across five key domains, was linked with maternal and paternal offending histories obtained from official records. Children whose parents had a history of criminal offending were at significantly greater risk of developmental vulnerability on each of the five domains. The risk of vulnerability increased further when both parents offended, when mothers rather than fathers offended, and when the offending was of a violent nature. For all types of offending, children were more likely to be vulnerable on multiple domains than on a single domain. These findings indicate a widespread impact of parental offending on early childhood development and highlight the need to support affected families in order to improve outcomes.

  • Carr, V.J., Harris, F., Raudino, A., Luo, L., Kariuki, M., Liu, E., Tzoumakis, S., Smith, M., Holbrook, A., Bore, M., Brinkman, S.A., Lenroot, R.K., Dix, K., Dean, K., Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J. (2016). Cohort Profile: The New South Wales Child Development Study (NSW-CDS) – An Australian multi-agency, multi-generational, longitudinal record linkage study. BMJ Open, 6:e009023 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009023.

This report provides a description of the characteristics of children who make up the NSW Child Development Study cohort. This group comprises 87,000 children who commenced their formal school education in 2009, and for whom class teachers completed the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). Rates for the successful linkage of the AEDC records with other administrative data for the children and their parents are provided within this publication, and information about the demographic characteristics (e.g., sex, geographic and socioeconomic distributions), as well as the representativeness of this group to a comparable national population. The strengths and limitations of the study are also discussed.

  • Kariuki, M., Raudino, A., Green, M.J., Laurens, K.R., Dean, K., Brinkman, S.A., Lenroot, R.K, Liu, E., Harris, F., Luo, L., Carr, V.J. (2016). Hospital admission for infection during early childhood influences developmental vulnerabilities at age 5 years. Journal of Paediatrics and Child Health, 52(9), 882-888. (Abstract)

This study examined the relationship between early childhood infections requiring hospitalisation and developmental vulnerability at age 5 years, as assessed using the Australian Early Development Census (AEDC). The AEDC provides an index of each child’s level of function on five domains, including Physical Health and Wellbeing, Social Competence, Emotional Maturity, Language and Cognitive Skills, Communication Skills and General Knowledge. Hospital admissions for infections were associated with vulnerability on all five developmental domains. This suggests that severe infections during early childhood may pose a risk to development by school-age.

  • Matheson, S.L., Kariuki, M., Harris, F., Green, M.J., Tarren-Sweeney, M., Dean, K., Tzoumakis, S., Brinkman, S., Chilvers, M., Sprague, T., Carr, V.J., Laurens, K.R. (2016). Effects of maltreatment and parental schizophrenia spectrum disorders on early childhood social-emotional functioning: a population record linkage study. Epidemiology and Psychiatric Sciences. doi: 10.1017/S204579601600055X

This study examined the associations between early childhood maltreatment (age 0-5 years) and childhood social and emotional functioning at approximately age 5 years. This was achieved by linking Family and Community Services Data, parental Mental Health Ambulatory and Admitted Patients Data and Australian Early Development Census Data.  Medium-sized associations were found between maltreatment and poor social competency, aggressive behaviour, and hyperactive/inattentive behaviour, and small associations were found between maltreatment and poor prosocial/helping and anxious/fearful behaviour. These results suggest childhood maltreatment may adversely impact on early childhood social and emotional functioning.

  • Laurens, K.R., Luo, L., Matheson, S.L., Carr, V.J., Raudino, A., Harris, F., Green, M.J. (2015). Common or distinct pathways to psychosis? A systematic review of evidence from prospective studies for developmental risk factors and antecedents of the schizophrenia spectrum disorders and affective psychoses. BMC Psychiatry.

This scientific review provides a summary of the available evidence relating to risk factors for the development of schizophrenia spectrum disorders (e.g., schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder), and affective psychoses (e.g., bipolar disorder). A total of 127 papers were reviewed for the purpose of evaluating the evidence for various risk factors as potentially conferring risk for psychoses, and to highlight gaps in the evidence base.  Factors which conferred the greatest risk, or were observed most consistently to confer risk to both affective and non-affective (schizophrenia spectrum) psychoses, included: obstetric complications, maternal illness during pregnancy (especially infections), other maternal physical factors, negative family emotional environment, psychopathology and psychotic symptoms, and cognitive and motor dysfunctions.

  • Sara, G., Luo, L., Carr, V.J., Raudino, A., Green, M.J., Laurens, K.L., Dean, K., Cohen, M. Burgess, P., Morgan, V.A. (2014). Comparing algorithms for deriving psychosis diagnoses from longitudinal administrative clinical records. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 49(11), 1729-37. (Abstract)

This study describes a method that we have tested to determine the performance of four different methods for assigning a single diagnosis (for a psychotic disorder) from health records in which multiple diagnoses can be recorded for a single individual over time. Administrative health records are valuable research tools but the methods to extract accurate mental health diagnoses can be challenging because of the number of admissions for any given individual. The methods tested in this report include testing the validity of using: ‘any’ diagnosis, ‘most recent’ diagnosis, ‘most frequent’ (modal) diagnosis or ‘hierarchy’ (where a diagnostic hierarchy was applied). Overall agreement between administrative and reference diagnoses was modest with different methods producing results of varying accuracy. This illustrates that the choice of methods used to summarise health records can impact the accuracy of diagnosis and hence is an important consideration for study methods.


  • Moore, E.A., Harris, F., Laurens, K.R., Green, M.J., Brinkman, S., Lenroot, R.K., Carr, V.J. (2014). Birth outcomes and academic achievement in childhood: A population record linkage study. Journal of Early Childhood Research, 12(3), 234–250. (Abstract)

This scientific report examined the association between early life risk factors and academic achievement at Kindergarten (approx. age 5) and Grade 3 (approx. age 8). This was achieved by linking the NSW Midwives data collection with the Best Start Kindergarten Assessment and NAPLAN results. Increasing maternal age and lack of maternal prenatal smoking were associated with improved academic performance. The results suggest that programs that target children with less developed academic skills during the first year of school may improve subsequent results.


 Other Relevant Research 

Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M. & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283-2290.

An interesting study finding that teacher rated prosocial skills in Kindergarten were related to outcomes in adolescence and young adulthood. Consistent results among student self-report, parent & teacher reports and court records, indicated that greater prosocial skills significantly predicted more positive education and employment outcomes, and fewer interactions with the criminal justice system. 

Newton-Howes, G., Horwood, J., & Mulder, R. (2015). Personality characteristics in childhood and outcomes in adulthood: Findings from a 30-Year longitudinal study. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 49(4), 377-386.

This journal article reports findings about neuroticism and extraversion, as predictors of social and wellbeing outcomes in adulthood. Look out for more personality research using the Big 5 Questionnaire for Children coming soon.

Brinkman, S., Gregory, T. A., Goldfeld, S., Lynch, J. W., & Hardy, M. (2014). Data resource profile: The Australian Early Development Index (AEDI).  International Journal of Epidemiology, 43(4), 1089-1096.

This article outlines the use of the Australian Early Development Index as a resource for collecting population-level data of Australian children.

Brinkman, Gregory, T., Harris, J., Hart, B., Blackmore, S., & Janus, M. (2013). Associations between the Early Developmental Instrument (EDI) at age 5, and reading and numeracy skills at ages 8, 10, and 12: A prospective linked data study. Child Indicators Research, 6(4), 695-708.

This paper reports results from the first Australian study to explore the relationship between the EDI and national standard school assessments. Developmental vulnerabilities on 1 or more EDI domain predicts students' Literacy and Numeracy results, as assessed by the Western Australian Literacy and Numeracy (WALNA) in Year 3 and the National Assessment Program Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) in Years 5 and 7. 

Curtin, M., Madden, J., Staines, A., & Perry, I. (2013). Determinants of vulnerability in early childhood development in Ireland: A cross-sectional study. BMJ Open, 3(5).

This journal article explores the use of the EDI to indicate the extent, distribution and determining factors of childhood vulnerabilities in Ireland. Results indicate that males, children under 5, and children having English as a second language (ESL) are at greater risk of being developmentally vulnerable upon entering full-time schooling.