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Developmental pathways from childhood conduct problems to early adult depression: findings from the ALSPAC cohort

  • Argyris Stringaris (a1), Glyn Lewis (a2) and Barbara Maughan (a3)

Pathways from early-life conduct problems to young adult depression remain poorly understood.


To test developmental pathways from early-life conduct problems to depression at age 18.


Data (n = 3542) came from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children (ALSPAC). Previously derived conduct problem trajectories (ages 4–13 years) were used to examine associations with depression from ages 10 to 18 years, and the role of early childhood factors as potential confounders.


Over 43% of young adults with depression in the ALSPAC cohort had a history of child or adolescent conduct problems, yielding a population attributable fraction of 0.15 (95% CI 0.08–0.22). The association between conduct problems and depression at age 18 was considerable even after adjusting for prior depression (odds ratio 1.55, 95% CI 1.24–1.94). Early-onset persistent conduct problems carried the highest risk for later depression. Irritability characterised depression for those with a history of conduct problems.


Early-life conduct problems are robustly associated with later depressive disorder and may be useful targets for early intervention.

Corresponding author
Argyris Stringaris, King's College London, Institute of Psychiatry, De Crespigny Park, London SE5 8AF, UK. Email:
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This research was specifically funded by the UK Medical Research Council (Grant ref: G0500953, BM) and the Wellcome Trust (Grant ref: WT084268MA, GL). A.S. gratefully acknowledges the support of the Wellcome Trust.

Declaration of interest


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Developmental pathways from childhood conduct problems to early adult depression: findings from the ALSPAC cohort

  • Argyris Stringaris (a1), Glyn Lewis (a2) and Barbara Maughan (a3)
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