Understanding patterns of social adversity from pregnancy to school-entry


Project Details

A range of parental risk factors such as low socioeconomic status, single parenthood, low educational attainment and poor mental health have been associated with poorer cognitive, language and socioemotional outcomes in Australian children. Parental risk factors commonly co-occur, and the severity of children’s later problems increases as the number of risk factors increases. Importantly, there is a clear social gradient in the distribution of these risk factors.

Families experiencing the greatest social adversity report a higher number of, and more severe, risk factors, and their children have the poorest outcomes. Adverse early childhood trajectories track into adolescence and correspond to poorer educational attainment, income and health throughout adulthood. Given that many risk factors associated with adversity are potentially modifiable, it may be possible to improve outcomes for both women and children, and reduce or prevent the social gradient, by identifying women at risk and providing them with sufficient and effective supports and resources.

The right@home trial recruited a large cohort of Australian women for their experience of adversity in pregnancy and conducts detailed assessments with women and their subsequent children until children start school. Within this trial, there is an exciting opportunity for a Masters or PhD student to examine whether there are patterns of risk factors that persist over time, and how they are associated with women’s and children’s outcomes. Understanding patterns of risk factors could help early years’ professionals better identify children at risk of poorer outcomes and, ideally, help inform services to reduce the negative impact of these early risks.

Research Opportunities

This research project is available to PhD, Masters by Research students to join as part of their thesis.
Please contact the Research Group Leader to discuss your options.

Research Group


Faculty Research Themes

Child Health

School Research Themes

Child Health in Medicine

Key Contact

For further information about this research, please contact the research group leader.

Department / Centre



Royal Children’s Hospital/Murdoch Childrens Research Institute

Unit / Centre


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