ACEs Research Corner — February 2020


Editor's note: Dr. Harise Stein at Stanford University edits a web site — — that focuses on the health effects of abuse, and includes research articles on ACEs. Every month, she's posting the summaries of the abstracts and links to research articles that address only ACEs science. [Thank you, Harise!! -- Jane Stevens]

Kambeitz C, Klug MG, Greenmyer J, Popova S, Burd L.
Association of adverse childhood experiences and neurodevelopmental disorders in people with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) and non-FASD controls. BMC Pediatr. 2019 Dec 16;19(1):498. PMID: 31842817
From a chart review of 203 children mean age 8.6 years referred to a regional developmental center, those with fetal alcohol syndrome disorder (FASD) vs. matched controls were 9 times more likely to be in foster care. They also had a higher ACE score (mean 5.3 vs. 1.7 for controls).

Merrick MT, Ford DC, Ports KA, et. al.
Vital Signs: Estimated Proportion of Adult Health Problems Attributable to Adverse Childhood Experiences and Implications for Prevention - 25 States, 2015-2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep. 2019 Nov 8;68(44):999-1005. PMID: 31697656
“Nearly one in six adults in the study population (15.6%) reported four or more types of adverse childhood experiences. Adverse childhood experiences were significantly associated with poorer health outcomes, health risk behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges.”

Riem MME, Karreman A.
Childhood Adversity and Adult Health: The Role of Developmental Timing and Associations with Accelerated Aging. Child Maltreat. 2019 Feb;24(1):17-25. PMID: 30153738
From a large study of the adult Dutch population, there was a dose–response relationship between the number of ACEs during childhood and a variety of medical conditions.

Islam MJ, Mazerolle P, Broidy L, Baird K.
Does the type of maltreatment matter? Assessing the individual and combined effects of multiple forms of childhood maltreatment on exclusive breastfeeding behavior. Child Abuse Negl. 2018 Dec;86:290-305. PMID: 30391785
For 426 Bangladeshi women, ACEs, especially childhood sexual abuse, were significantly associated with lack of exclusive breastfeeding at 6 months.  Postpartum depression increased this effect.

Strathearn L, Mertens CE, Mayes L, et. al.
Pathways Relating the Neurobiology of Attachment to Drug Addiction. Front Psychiatry. 2019 Nov 8;10:737. PMID: 31780957
“Multiple overlapping adverse childhood experiences, ranging from traumatic abuse to absence of nurturant care and neglect, may have a profound impact on the development of secure attachment and on each of three biological systems: the dopamine-related reward system, the oxytocin-related affiliation system, and the glucocorticoid related stress response system.”

Thompson MP, Kingree JB, Lamis D.
Associations of adverse childhood experiences and suicidal behaviors in adulthood. Child Care Health Dev. 2019 Jan;45(1):121-128. PMID: 30175459
From a large national survey, “Compared with those with no ACEs, the odds of seriously considering suicide or attempting suicide in adulthood increased more than threefold among those with three or more ACEs.”

Dowd MD.
The Relevance of Parental Adverse Childhood Experiences in Pediatric Practice. Pediatr Ann. 2019 Dec 1;48(12):e463-e465. PMID: 31830283
“Parents or caregivers with high ACEs and unresolved toxic stress may present to our practice settings as parents who are chronically late or miss appointments, noncompliant with treatment plans, or lose medications. Struggling with self-regulation, they may be parents who worry excessively or have high anxiety. They may have difficulty in controlling their emotions and temper and may exhibit harsh parenting style. Some may be challenged by an inability to attune their child’s physical or emotional needs and respond appropriately. Those parents may struggle with alcohol and drug abuse or may be exhausted beyond what you would expect or appear to be defeated or detached and have difficulty engaging. Although all of these should raise the concern that a parent is struggling, the most common presentation of a parent with a high ACE score and difficulty with parenting may be none of the above; in other words, a parent who seems to be doing just fine.” 

Strait J, Meagher S.
Trauma-Informed Care in Pediatrics: A Developmental Perspective in Twelve Cases with Narratives. Perm J. 2019;24. PMID: 31852045
“Starting the conversation of childhood trauma is often what must happen for patients and parents to process connections of childhood trauma to current health problems. Attainment of such awareness can set families on a trajectory of emotional and physical healing…all practitioners should echo the words of Felitti and Anda: ‘Gradually, we came to see that asking, listening, and enabling a patient to go home feeling still accepted, is in itself a major intervention.’

Klasen J, Nolte T, Möller H, Taubner S.
Adverse childhood experiences, attachment representations and mentalizing capacity of psychotherapists in training. Z Psychosom Med Psychother. 2019 Dec;65(4):353-371. PMID: 31801442
Article in German, but per the English abstract, 90 German trainees at the beginning of their training in either CBT, psychodynamic or psychoanalytic therapies “show to be as burdened as the general population in terms of ACEs”. However, as a group they had a higher degree of attachment security and reflective functioning than the general public.

Chamberlain C, Gee G, Harfield S, et. al.
Parenting after a history of childhood maltreatment: A scoping review and map of evidence in the perinatal period. PLoS One. 2019 Mar 13;14(3):e0213460. PMID: 30865679
“The perinatal period (pregnancy to two years postpartum) is critical for parents with a history of childhood maltreatment. Parents may experience 'triggering' of trauma responses during perinatal care or caring for their distressed infant. Conversely, the perinatal period offers a unique life-course opportunity for parental healing and prevention of child maltreatment. This scoping review aims to map perinatal evidence regarding theories, intergenerational pathways, parents' views, interventions and measurement tools involving parents with a history of maltreatment in their own childhoods.”

Meier P, Purshouse R, Bain M, et. al.
The SIPHER Consortium: Introducing the new UK hub for systems science in public health and health economic research.Wellcome Open Res. 2019 Nov 12;4:174. PMID: 31815191
“This open letter introduces a new research initiative in this space. The SIPHER (Systems Science in Public Health and Health Economics Research) Consortium brings together a multi-disciplinary group of scientists from across six universities, three government partners at local, regional and national level, and ten practice partner organisations…we will initially focus on four policy areas: Inclusive Economic Growth, Adverse Childhood Experiences, Mental Wellbeing and Housing.”

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This is great information. I just started this year to do research on ACE. as a SEL instructor my goals is to link SEL to ACE as a protective factor in working children and youths facing adverse experiences, and bring awareness to adults around SEL competences and ACE information.  This is great resources to use and share in the movement of ACE awareness and protective factors.

This is a fabulous resource, for so many reasons:

It can be a tremendous help to policy makers as they look for evidence to support programs to prevent adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and seek to help others understand the dire consequences of childhood trauma on individuals and society.

This collection and the ease with which any audience can access the information can help people in the ACEs movement make clear the urgency of funding, supporting, or creating programs to help prevent ACEs and to bring understanding and healing to people of all ages and stages who suffer the consequences of ACEs. This is evidence for preventive action; restorative action.  

The variety of resources and reports, shown as a collection, give gravitas to the worldwide attention focused on the devastating impacts of toxic childhood stress. 

It should be easy for any funder, policymaker, curriculum development professional, journalist, candidate, world leader, to see, by looking at this list of evidence-based reports, that preventing ACEs is a worldwide challenge and opportunity that is about nothing less than saving humanity. 

I hope this article is shared our widely! I hope ACEs Connection members join me in Tweeting it and posting on Facebook and emailing people in power: policy makers, politicians, journalists, other thought leaders  

ACEs Connection now has almost 40,000 members. We could make this post go viral If we all just share it! 

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