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Parents’ Childhood Affects Their Children’s Behavioral Health

Adverse childhood events for parents, especially mothers, affects kids’ emotional well-being

TUESDAY, July 24, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Parents’ adverse childhood events (ACEs), such as abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction, can impact their children’s lives, according to a study published online July 9 in Pediatrics.

Adam Schickedanz, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of California in Los Angeles, and colleagues assessed whether parents’ ACEs confer intergenerational risk to their children’s behavioral health. Participants in the 2013 Panel Study of Income Dynamics Childhood Retrospective Circumstances Study and 2014 PSID Child Development Supplement self-reported information on nine ACEs as well as reports of their children’s behavioral problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis, and emotional disturbance diagnosis.

The researchers found that children of parents with a history of at least four ACEs had on average a score that was 2.3 points higher on the Behavior Problems Index, 2.1 times higher odds of hyperactivity, and 4.2 times higher odds of an emotional disturbance diagnosis, compared to children whose parents had no ACEs. There was a stronger association between maternal ACEs and child behavior problems than paternal ACEs. The associations were mediated by parent emotional distress and aggravation.

“Efforts to reduce child behavior problems should consider risk stratification on parents’ ACEs and upstream approaches to reducing ACEs or interrupting their intergenerational impacts,” the authors write.

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