Preschool Age Predictors of Adolescent Borderline Personality Symptoms

Ben Geselowitz, Diana J. Whalen, Rebecca Tillman, Deanna M. Barch, Joan L. Luby, Alecia Vogel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Objective: Developmental models of borderline personality disorder (BPD) have highlighted the interplay of psychological variables (ie, impulsivity and emotional reactivity) with social risk factors, including invalidating parenting and childhood trauma. Prospective longitudinal studies have demonstrated the association of BPD with social, familial, and psychological antecedents. However, to date, few of these studies have studied the interaction of multiple risk domains and their potential manifestations in the preschool period. Method: Participants were 170 children enrolled in a prospective longitudinal study of early childhood depression. Participants completed a baseline assessment between ages 3 and 6 years. Psychopathology, suicidality, and self-harm were assessed using a semistructured age-appropriate psychiatric interview before age 8 and self-report after age 8. BPD symptoms were assessed between ages 14 and 19 by self-report. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and peer relationships were reported by parents. Maternal support was assessed using an observational measure between ages 3 and 6. Results: Preschool ACEs accounted for 14.9% of adolescent BPD symptom variance in a regression analysis. Controlling for gender and preschool ACEs, preschool and school-age externalizing symptoms, preschool internalizing symptoms, and low maternal support were significant predictors of BPD symptoms in multivariate analyses. Preschool and school-age suicidality composite scores significantly predicted BPD symptoms. Conclusion: These findings suggest that preschool factors may be early predictors of BPD symptoms. Findings demonstrate that preschoolers with internalizing and externalizing psychopathology, high ACEs, and early suicidality are at greater risk of developing BPD symptoms. However, further research is needed to guide key factors for targeted early intervention.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)612-622
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
Volume60
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2021

Keywords

  • adverse childhood experiences
  • early childhood
  • maternal support
  • preschool onset disorders
  • suicidality

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