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Adverse Childhood Experiences and Mental and Behavioral Health Conditions During Pregnancy: The Role of Resilience

Little is known about how exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and protective factors, such as resilience, influence prenatal mental and behavioral health. This study examined associations between exposure to ACEs and mental and behavioral health during pregnancy overall and among women with high versus low levels of resilience. Women in two Kaiser Permanente Northern California medical centers were screened for ACEs and resilience during prenatal care (∼14-23 weeks of gestation; N = 355). Multivariable logistic regression analyses examined associations between ACEs and prenatal mental and behavioral health conditions overall and for women with low (≤32) versus high (>32) resilience on the 10-item Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale. Overall, 54% of women reported 0 ACEs, 28% 1-2 ACEs, and 18% 3+ ACEs. Relative to women with 0 ACEs, those with 1-2 ACEs had higher odds of an anxiety or depressive disorder and intimate partner violence (IPV) (odds ratios [ORs] 2.42-3.12, p < 0.05), and those with 3+ ACEs had higher odds of an anxiety or depressive disorder, depression symptoms, and IPV (ORs 3.08-4.71, p < 0.05). In stratified analyses by high (56%) and low (44%) resilience, having one or more ACEs (vs. 0 ACEs) was only associated with worse mental and behavioral health in women with low resilience. ACEs predicted mental and behavioral health conditions among pregnant women, and associations were the strongest among women with low levels of current resilience. Longitudinal research is needed to understand the causal mechanisms underlying these associations.

Authors: Young-Wolff KC; Alabaster A; McCaw B; Stoller N; Watson C; Sterling S; Ridout KK; Flanagan T

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2019 04;28(4):452-461. Epub 2018-09-05.

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