Adverse Childhood Experiences: Separate and Cumulative Effects on Adolescent Health and Emotional Well-Being

Kelly Balistreri, Bowling Green State University
Marta Alvira-Hammond, Bowling Green State University

While adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are linked to a host of health problems in adulthood, few studies examine more proximate effect of ACE on health and emotional well-being in adolescence. Using the 2011/12 National Survey of Children’s Health, we assessed the separate and cumulative effects of ACE on the health and emotional well-being of US adolescents ages 12–17. We also investigated a moderating role of family functioning. Given exposure to one adverse experience, they were at greater risk of experiencing others. Economic hardship and experiencing discrimination increased the odds of poor adolescent health, while parental divorce and neighborhood violence increase the odds of adolescent emotional problems. Mental illness in the home increased the risk of both poor adolescent health and emotional problems. Family functioning moderated the negative impact of cumulative ACE on emotional well-being. Our findings have implications for policy and intervention before at-risk children reach adulthood.

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Presented in Poster Session 9: Children and Youth; Data and Methods