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ACEs Research Corner — April 2021


[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 posts  the summaries of the abstracts and links to research articles that address only ACEs. Thank you, Harise!! -- Jane Stevens]

Ma J, Lee SJ, Grogan-Kaylor A.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and Spanking Have Similar Associations with Early Behavior. Problems. J Pediatr. 2021 Feb 3:S0022-3476(21)00106-2. PMID: 33548261
From a study of 2380 families, ACEs and spanking at 3 years were unique risk factors for increased externalizing problems (such as anger) at 5 years, after controlling for multiple variables. The magnitude of the associations of ACEs and spanking with externalizing behavior were statistically indistinguishable. “Results support calls to consider physical punishment as a form of ACE."

Xiao D, Wang T, Huang Y, et. al.
Gender differences in the associations between types of childhood maltreatment and sleep disturbance among Chinese adolescents. J Affect Disord. 2020 Mar 15;265:595-602. PMID: 32090782
For 153,547 Chinese adolescents, 21.6% reported sleep disturbance. “A significant dose-response relationship was found between cumulative childhood maltreatment experiences and sleep disturbance,” more so for girls.

Shreffler KM, Joachims CN, Tiemeyer S, et. al.
Childhood Adversity and Perceived Distress from the COVID-19 Pandemic. Advers Resil Sci. 2021 Jan 28:1-4. PMID: 33527096
Of 101 women, higher ACE scores were associated with increased loneliness, which in turn was associated with increased distress during the pandemic. “Those who had greater adversity during childhood may be less likely to have the social connectedness needed to reduce distress.”

Medeiros GC, Prueitt WL, Minhajuddin A, et. al.
Childhood maltreatment and impact on clinical features of major depression in adults. Psychiatry Res. 2020 Nov;293:113412. PMID: 32950785
Of 663 adults in a medication study for moderate to severe depression, those with childhood maltreatment had higher rates of panic/phobic, cognitive, and anhedonic (inability to feel pleasure) symptoms; and poorer clinical presentation including earlier onset, more severe symptoms, more suicidality, and worse quality of life and functioning. “Clinical presentation was worse in participants who reported multiple types of childhood maltreatment.”

Leza L, Siria S, López-Goñi JJ, Fernández-Montalvo J.
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and substance use disorder (SUD): A scoping review. Drug Alcohol Depend. 2021 Jan 29;221:108563. PMID: 33561668
From a research review, “The main conclusions of the studies were that there is a higher prevalence of ACEs in the population with SUD [substance use disorder] than in the general population, and a positive association between ACEs and the development and severity of SUD.”

Guina J, Audu AK, Cameron J, et. al.
Prevalence of Traumas and PTSD Among Individuals Adjudicated Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2021 Feb 12:JAAPL.200062-20. PMID: 33579733
Of 107 adults judged Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity, “Most insanity acquittees experienced trauma (86%, averaging 11 events) and ACEs (76%, averaging 3 types). PTSD prevalence was 25%, with 97% of cases being previously undiagnosed. These results suggest that insanity acquittees have high levels of trauma, ACEs, and PTSD.”

Huang CC, Tan Y, Cheung SP, Hu H.
Adverse Childhood Experiences and Psychological Well-Being in Chinese College Students: Effect of Mindfulness. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021 Feb 9;18(4):1636. PMID: 33572110
For 1871 Chinese college students, there was a significant negative association between ACEs and psychological well-being (PWB), and a strong and positive association between mindfulness and PWB. In addition, mindfulness was partially able to decrease the negative effects of ACEs on PWB.

Meeker EC, O'Connor BC, Kelly LM, et. al.
The impact of adverse childhood experiences on adolescent health risk indicators in a community sample. Psychol Trauma. 2021 Mar;13(3):302-312. PMID: 33539157
Of 1532 high school students, and after controlling for age, gender, and race, youth with multiple ACEs reported 3 to 15 times the odds of a range of negative health experiences, including mental health symptoms, getting into fights, substance use, carrying a weapon, and suicide attempts.

Goad E.
Working alongside people with intellectual disabilities who have had difficult experiences: Reflections on trauma-informed care within a service context. J Intellect Disabil. 2021 Feb 22:1744629520987717. PMID: 33615861
“People with intellectual disabilities are more likely to experience adverse childhood experiences than those in the general population.” This article details one organization’s journey to create a comprehensive trauma-informed care program tailored to their client’s needs.


Herrenkohl TI, Scott D, Higgins DJ, Klika JB, Lonne B.
How COVID-19 Is Placing Vulnerable Children at Risk and Why We Need a Different Approach to Child Welfare. Child Maltreat. 2021 Feb;26(1):9-16. PMID: 33025825
“Perhaps, in all of the tragedy of our current situation globally, there is potential for change, and to use the disruptions to ‘service as usual’ as an opportunity to reinvent our approaches…Let us use this time of uncertainty to consider how to build on these early program and policy successes, while also beginning the process of (re)building child welfare systems around a voluntary, universal model of family supports that provides rapid and timely assessment and engagement of families so that they receive the right services, through non-stigmatizing platforms, when they need them.”

Langevin R, Cossette L, Hébert M.
Emotion Dysregulation in Sexually Abused Preschoolers: Insights from a Story Completion Task. J Child Sex Abus. 2020 May-Jun;29(4):468-489. PMID: 31621527
From a story task of 62 sexually abused and 65 non-abused preschoolers, those with an abuse history showed “fewer demonstrations of empathy, help, and comfort, and less coherent and resolved stories…strongest in the stories involving fear. These findings suggest the presence of emotion dysregulation among sexually abused preschoolers, but also insecure attachment, and a sense of betrayal, isolation, and powerlessness.”

Marchant R, Carter J, Fairhurst C.
Opening doors: suggested practice for medical professionals for when a child might be close to telling about abuse.Arch Dis Child. 2021 Feb;106(2):108-110. PMID: 33234531
Useful, short read on what to say or not say if a child is about to tell about abuse. Full text

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