Purpose: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) have been linked with poor physical and mental health. This study examined adult respondents' (e.g. parental) reports from the 2016–17 National Survey of Children's Health, a nationally representative study of health outcomes and social contexts of U.S. households with noninstitutionalized children. Methods: Logistic regression was used to examine associations between ACEs and reports of current depression, anxiety, conduct/behavioral problems, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, and substance use disorder among youth (n = 29,617; 49% female) aged 12–17 years. Results: ACEs were associated with an increased likelihood of all current mental health diagnoses, particularly for youth exposed to four or more ACEs. Conclusion: Although data relied on cross-sectional adult reports, results provide evidence of a graded association between ACEs exposure and adolescents' mental health conditions; associations with substance use disorder were particularly marked. Early childhood, multilevel, trauma-informed interventions are needed to prevent negative youth outcomes associated with ACEs.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
- Psychiatry and Mental health