Skip Navigation LinksParents-Adverse-Childhood-Experiences-Can-Carry-Across-Generations

aaa print

Parents' Adverse Childhood Experiences Can Carry Across Generations


Parents’ adverse childhood events, such as abuse, neglect or household dysfunction, can carry over into their children’s lives. A study in the August 2018 issue of Pediatrics, “Parents’ Adverse Childhood Experiences and Their Children’s Behavioral Health Problems” (published online July 9), using a national sample of families found that children of parents who experienced four or more adverse childhood events before age 18 had an increased risk of behavioral problems themselves. Higher parent adverse event counts – particularly for mothers – affected the emotional well-being of their children, showing that a parent’s adverse childhood experiences can extend across generations. Children of these parents had increased odds of developing behavior problems, including attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder and emotional disturbance. The researchers state that this information raises the possibility that parent adverse events may influence children’s behavior through learned parenting styles, especially for mothers. They also state that the results show that parent adverse event scores could help clinicians identify, very early on, children at higher risk for behavioral health problems and offer an opportunity to target preventive interventions early in an at-risk child’s life, perhaps by equipping parents with improved parenting skills.


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit and follow us on Twitter @AmerAcadPeds