Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences With Pregnancy and Infant Health

Published:January 23, 2023DOI:


      Adverse childhood experiences are associated with a host of negative outcomes; however, few have studied cumulative adverse childhood experiences in the context of pregnancy and infant health. This study examines state-level prevalence of adverse childhood experiences and associations with pregnancy- and infant health‒related indicators.


      The study used 2016–2018 Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System population-based data from 5 states. Analyses were conducted for individual states and grouped states using similar adverse childhood experience items. Thirteen adverse childhood experience measures were included across 3 domains: abuse, neglect, and household challenges. Adverse childhood experience scores were calculated for the number of adverse childhood experiences experienced (0, 1, 2, ≥3) on the basis of available state measures. Fourteen pregnancy- and infant health‒related indicators were examined, including unwanted pregnancy, adequate prenatal care, experiences during pregnancy (e.g., smoking, abuse, depression), gestational diabetes, hypertensive disorders of pregnancy, birth outcomes (e.g., preterm birth), and breastfeeding. Adjusting for demographics, parity, health insurance status, and educational attainment, prevalence ratios and 95% CIs were calculated to examine the associations between pregnancy- and infant health‒related indicators and adverse childhood experience scores.


      Over 50% of respondents reported at least 1 adverse childhood experience and 13%–31% reported ≥3 adverse childhood experiences, depending on the state. Significant associations were identified in all adjusted models between adverse childhood experiences and unwanted pregnancy, smoking, physical abuse, and depression during pregnancy.


      Adverse childhood experiences are associated with risk factors that impact pregnancy and infant health. Preventing and mitigating adverse childhood experiences is an important strategy to improve pregnancy- and infant health‒related indicators.
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