Research roundup: ACEs among incarcerated women; testing technology to help reduce substance use; prenatal support as an intervention to prevent ACEs


photo by Rhoda Baer/Wikimedia Common

Life as she knows it: The effects of adverse childhood experiences on intimate partner violence among women prisoners [Child Abuse & Neglect]

"Most incarcerated women suffer from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as abuse (e.g., physical, sexual, emotional), neglect, (e.g., physical, emotional), and chaotic home environments (e.g., witnessing domestic violence), and adult intimate partner violence (IPV). Yet the majority of research on the relationship between ACEs and IPV has been limited to non-incarcerated populations. Using data from a stratified random sample of all incarcerated women in Oklahoma (n = 355), we explore the relationships between individual, cumulative, and clusters of ACEs as they relate to multiple forms of IPV in adulthood utilizing a feminist life course theory approach."

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A pilot randomized controlled trial of a technology-based substance use intervention for youth exiting foster care [Children and Youth Services Review]


•Youth who have experienced foster care report high levels of substance use.

•Traditional approaches to substance use service provision may not meet the unique needs of this population.

•We developed a computer- and mobile phone-based intervention for reducing substance use among youth exiting foster care (iHeLP).

•Feasibility, acceptability, and preliminary efficacy of iHeLP were strong.

•Technology-based interventions may be an engaging alternative to reduce substance use among youth exiting foster care."

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Social buffering of the maternal and infant HPA axes: Mediation and moderation in the intergenerational transmission of adverse childhood experiences [Development and Psychopathology]

"Supportive social relationships can reduce both psychological and physiological responses to stressful experiences. Recently, studies have also assessed the potential for social relationships to buffer the intergenerational transmission of stress. The majority of these studies, however, have focussed on social learning as a mechanism responsible for the intergenerational transmission of stress. Evidence of biological mechanisms is lacking. The objective of the current study was, therefore, to determine whether the association between maternal adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and infant hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis function is mediated by maternal HPA axis function during pregnancy and moderated by social support. Data were from 243 mother–infant dyads enrolled in a prospective longitudinal cohort (the Alberta Pregnancy Outcomes and Nutrition Study). Maternal history of ACEs was retrospectively assessed while maternal perceived social support and salivary cortisol were assessed prospectively at 6–22 weeks gestation (Time 1) and 27–37 weeks gestation (Time 2), and infant cortisol reactivity to a laboratory stressor and maternal perceived social support were assessed at 5–10 months postnatal (Time 3). Results revealed that maternal HPA axis function during pregnancy mediated the effects of maternal ACEs on infant HPA axis reactivity, suggesting that the maternal HPA axis is a mechanism by which maternal early life stress is transmitted to offspring. Furthermore, social support in the prenatal and postnatal periods moderated the cascade from maternal ACEs to infant HPA axis reactivity. Specifically, prenatal social support moderated the association between ACEs and maternal HPA axis function during pregnancy, and postnatal social support moderated the association between maternal HPA axis function and infant cortisol reactivity. These findings highlight the social sensitivity of the HPA axis and suggest the utility of social relationships as an intervention target to reduce the effects of maternal early life stress on infant outcomes."

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