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May, 2004
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There is an increasing body of evidence indicating that prenatal and perinatal factors predispose to externalizing behavior in the offspring. This paper first reviews recent empirical research on prenatal and perinatal complications and externalizing behavior. Brain dysfunction mechanisms are then discussed. It is suggested that (a) birth complications can cause brain damage and (b) brain damage can predispose to antisocial and violent behavior. Finally, the paper argues that prevention strategies using a multidisciplinary approach may help reduce prenatal and perinatal complications. In consequence, such strategies may also help reduce the likelihood of later externalizing behavior problems.

KEY WORDS: prenatal and perinatal complications, birth complications, brain damage, externalizing behavior, antisocial behavior, violence, prevention.


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Jianghong Liu, Ph.D

Jianghong Liu, Ph.D is a postdoctoral research fellow in Social Science Research Institute at University of Southern California. Dr. Liu' s research interests involve early health risk factors in developing later childhood externalizing behavior. This work was supported by postdoctoral fellowship NRSA 1 F32 NR008661-01 from the National Institute for Nursing Research (NINR). The address for the author is Social Science Research Institute, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA 90089-0375. Her email address is jianghol@usc.edu.