Background: Behavioral symptoms in schoolchildren have been observed in preschoolers. As severe symptoms are more likely to persist and require treatment, proper assessment and early intervention are required in that age group. Aim: In this cross-sectional, community-based study we examined problem behaviors in Emirati children between the ages of 1.5 to 5 years.
Method: The study was conducted between October 2015 and June 2016 at the Ambulatory Health Services in Abu Dhabi. Parents (84.9%) and other primary caregivers (15.1%) reported on internalizing and externalizing behavior problems using the Arabic version of Child Behavior Checklist/1.5-5 (CBCL/1.5-5) which was used to analyze the resulting behavior profiles.
Results: Girls constituted 47.7% of the 815 participants. Problems occurred more commonly in boys than in girls. Boys had significantly more internalizing problem items than girls (p=0.04). Fifty-five (6.7%) children had only abnormal (T-scores ≥ 70) internalizing problem items, one (0.1%) child had only abnormal externalizing problem items, while 13 (1.6%) children had both. The prevalence of autism spectrum on the Motor and Social Development (MSD)-oriented scale was 13.6%, anxiety 9.6% and depression 8.0%.
Conclusion: Frequent problem behaviors occur in preschool children who, therefore, require further evaluation and early intervention to prevent problems later in life.