Shakira Suglia, an assistant professor of epidemiology at Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, and colleagues at the University of Vermont and Harvard School of Public Health, assessed soda consumption by about 3,000 5-year-old children in 20 large U.S. cities.
Mothers reported their child's soft drink consumption and completed the Child Behavior Checklist based on their child's behavior during the previous two months.
The study, published in The Journal of Pediatrics, found 43 percent of the children consumed at least one serving of soft drinks per day and 4 percent consumed four or more.
Even after adjusting for sociodemographic factors, maternal depression, intimate partner violence and paternal incarceration, any soft drink consumption was associated with increased aggressive behavior, the study said.
Those who drank soft drinks also had increased attention problems and withdrawal behavior compared with those who did not consume soft drinks, Suglia said.
"We found the child's aggressive behavior score increased with every increase in soft drinks servings per day," Suglia said in a statement.
Although this study cannot identify the exact nature of the association between soft drink consumption and problem behaviors, limiting or eliminating a child's soft drink consumption might reduce behavioral problems, Suglia said.