respect to salient issues of a given developmental period and the transaction between prior adaptation, maturational change, and subsequent environmental challenges” (Sroufe and Rutter, 1984, p. 17). Such a perspective provides a comfortable home for true integration of biological and behavioral influences.
Developmental psychopathology may indeed be the core integrative discipline for the knowledge base for preventive intervention research. Certainly its concepts, principles, and goals are similar to those in prevention. These concepts include risk and protective factors, precursors, sequelae, competence/incompetence, developmental antecedents of disorders, age-defined adaptation, resilience, and predictability. Sroufe and Rutter (1984) believed not only that the information gained from longitudinal risk research could yield valuable information for preventive interventions, but also that prevention was one of the central justifications for the existence of this special discipline. Developmentally based preventive interventions, moreover, have the potential to serve as tests of theory (Cicchetti and Toth, 1992).
Two examples highlight the research developments in developmental psychopathology. First, low birthweight and premature birth have long been thought to be risk factors associated with increased rates of behavioral and emotional symptoms. Early reports of these associations were largely retrospective and descriptive in nature, but with prospective longitudinal studies in many different disciplines the evidence is more sound. For example, Rose and colleagues reported that very low birthweight premature infants manifested more behavior problems than full-term infants at three and six years (Rose, Feldman, Rose, Wallace, and McCarton, 1992). Also, the overall prevalence of clinically significant problems in the low-birthweight premature infants increased with age: at age three, 30 percent had problems; by age six, 50 percent of them did. Studies such as this one add credence to the beliefs that some such infants are at risk not only for cognitive impairment but also for behavioral dysfunction and that the problems are not transient in nature. Other studies, however, have not shown such pessimistic outcomes, thereby raising research questions regarding degrees of risk and the role of protective factors.
Second, developmental approaches to depression—including epidemiology, risk and protective factors, precursor symptoms, onset, course, and sequelae—are needed across the life span. For example, during the transition to parenthood, depression can be a serious problem; about 10 percent of postpartum women develop a depressive disorder severe enough that it interferes with daily functioning (Campbell and Cohn, 1991; O'Hara, Zekoski, Phillips, and Wright, 1990).