BALTIMORE — Research presented at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting indicated that future mental and physical health was significantly decreased among children who experienced only two adverse childhood events. However, these effects can be offset through strategies, such as community support and good paternal mental health.
“We focused on questions about [adverse childhood events (ACEs)] exposure, but also family, social and community assets that could serve to moderate that risk or enhance resilience,” Iman Sharif, MD, MPH, of the division of general pediatrics at Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children, said in a press release.
Sharif and colleagues studied data from 95,677 participants using the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children’s Health. To examine children who flourished, the researchers used composite scores regarding child flourishing, through keywords such as “bounces back,” and “curious.” Statistical analysis was used to determine the relationship between the number of ACEs, which included exposure to violence, death of a loved one and economic hardship, and flourishing.
Study results showed that child flourishing diminished as ACEs increased (P < .0001). Children with two or more ACEs were most at risk for decreased flourishing. Other inhibiting factors included older age and special health needs.
Variables related to increased flourishing included having a medical home, maternal mental health, community support, paternal mental health, parental education and neighborhood amenities. Sharif and colleagues said these strategies may be used to counter the risk associated with ACEs.
“The research for the past 20 years has clearly demonstrated the relationship between ACEs exposure and adult physical and mental health outcomes,” Sharif said in the release. “This study adds to the emerging literature on the impact of ACEs on child health outcomes, and goes further to identify the factors that can help children thrive even when exposed to ACEs.” – by David Costill
Sharif I, et al. Abstract 3805.61. Presented at: Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting; April 30-May 3, 2016; Baltimore.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.