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We aimed to describe the natural history of heavy episodic drinking (HED) and associated harms from adolescence to young adulthood in a large Australian population cohort study.
The Australian Temperament Project consists of mothers and babies (4–8 months) recruited from Infant Welfare Centres and followed every 2 to 4 years until age 28 years. Analyses were based on data from 1156 young people (497 male; 659 female) surveyed repeatedly at ages 16, 18, 20, 24 and 28 years. We used dual processes latent class growth analysis to estimate trajectories of HED and associated harms, employing a piecewise approach to model the hypothesized rise and subsequent fall across adolescence and the late twenties, respectively.
We identified four sex-specific trajectories and observed little evidence of maturing-out across the twenties. In males, a normative pattern of increasing HED across the twenties with little related harm was observed (40% of the male sample). Early and late starter groups that peaked in harms at age 20 years with only minor attenuation in binging thereafter were also observed (6.1% and 35%, respectively). In females, a normative pattern of increasing, but moderate, HED with little related harm was observed (44% of the female sample). Early and late starter groups were also identified (18% and 17%, respectively); however, unlike males, the female late starter group showed a pattern of increasing HED and related harms.
Continued patterns of risky alcohol use and related harms are apparent for both males and females across the twenties.
The aims of the study were to describe the patterning and persistence of anxiety and depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood and to examine long-term developmental relationships with earlier patterns of internalizing behaviours in childhood.
We used parallel processes latent growth curve modelling to build trajectories of internalizing from adolescence to adulthood, using seven waves of follow-ups (ages 11–27 years) from 1406 participants of the Australian Temperament Project. We then used latent factors to capture the stability of maternal reported child internalizing symptoms across three waves of early childhood follow-ups (ages 5, 7 and 9 years), and examined relationships among these patterns of symptoms across the three developmental periods, adjusting for gender and socio-economic status.
We observed strong continuity in depressive symptoms from adolescence to young adulthood. In contrast, adolescent anxiety was not persistent across the same period, nor was it related to later depressive symptoms. Anxiety was, however, related to non-specific stress in young adulthood, but only moderately so. Although childhood internalizing was related to adolescent and adult profiles, the associations were weak and indirect by adulthood, suggesting that other factors are important in the development of internalizing symptoms.
Once established, adolescent depressive symptoms are not only strongly persistent, but also have the potential to differentiate into anxiety in young adulthood. Relationships with childhood internalizing symptoms are weak, suggesting that early adolescence may be an important period for targeted intervention, but also that further research into the childhood origins of internalizing behaviours is needed.
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