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Description: You have likely heard about the research looking at the longer term imp0acts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE’s) on later development and functioning as children grow into adulthood. In has supported and spurred on an ongoing push for early intervention with at-risk families in an effort to minimize the existence of or to mitigate the impact of ACE’s on later development. Such programs (e.g., Home Visitation, Head Start etc.) have been shown to be effective in this regard and Head Start, in particular, has been shown to produce a 7 to 1 cost/benefit ratio (for every dollar spent on Head Start programming 7 dollars are saved in longer term social costs (e.g., welfare, underemployment, criminal justice etc.). Assuming that these social “corrections” for ACE’s are effective with a group of individuals should we be at all concerned about how the children go on to have when they reach adulthood will do? Think about that for a moment or two and include in your thoughts how the neurodevelopment of the next generation children might proceed and then read through the linked article. I suspect you will be surprised by the reported results.

Source: Childhood neglect leaves generational imprint. ScienceDaily.

Date: January 19, 2021

Photo Credit:  Tama66 at Pixabay

Article Link:

The difficulty with brain focused work like this is that while it can point to differences in the brains of 1-month-olds, in this case finding stronger functional connections between the amygdala and cortical regions in infants of mothers who experienced neglect as infants it does not provide clear indications as to why this might be the case. To their credit the researchers suggest the possibility that such structures could contribute to resilience if needed. As to causal hypotheses, perhaps the mothers’ adaptation to their own past experience created a prenatal environment for their own children and contributed to the observed differences. The closing statement that longitudinal research is needed to sort this out more definitively is well stated.

Questions for Discussion:

  1. How might a mother’s own ACE’s influence the early (even pre-natal) development of their own infants?
  2. What do the results of the research discussed in the linked article suggest about the research into early intervention programming?
  3. What might we do to improve our responses and our interventions to ACE’s in light of the research discussed in the linked article?

References (Read Further):

Hendrix, C. L., Dilks, D. D., McKenna, B. G., Dunlop, A. L., Corwin, E. J., & Brennan, P. A. (2020). Maternal childhood adversity associates with frontoamygdala connectivity in neonates. Biological Psychiatry: Cognitive Neuroscience and Neuroimaging. Abstract Link

Burke, N. J., Hellman, J. L., Scott, B. G., Weems, C. F., & Carrion, V. G. (2011). The impact of adverse childhood experiences on an urban pediatric population. Child abuse & neglect, 35(6), 408-413. Link

Finkelhor, D. (2018). Screening for adverse childhood experiences (ACEs): Cautions and suggestions. Child abuse & neglect, 85, 174-179. Link

Felitti, V. J. (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and adult health. Academic pediatrics, 9(3), 131. Link

Brown, D. W., Anda, R. F., Tiemeier, H., Felitti, V. J., Edwards, V. J., Croft, J. B., & Giles, W. H. (2009). Adverse childhood experiences and the risk of premature mortality. American journal of preventive medicine, 37(5), 389-396. Link

Hughes, K., Bellis, M. A., Hardcastle, K. A., Sethi, D., Butchart, A., Mikton, C., … & Dunne, M. P. (2017). The effect of multiple adverse childhood experiences on health: a systematic review and meta-analysis. The Lancet Public Health, 2(8), e356-e366. Link

Garces, E., Thomas, D., & Currie, J. (2002). Longer-term effects of Head Start. American economic review, 92(4), 999-1012. Link

Reynolds, A. J., Temple, J. A., Robertson, D. L., & Mann, E. A. (2002). Age 21 cost-benefit analysis of the Title I Chicago child-parent centers. Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis, 24(4), 267-303. Link

Ludwig, J., & Phillips, D. A. (2007). The benefits and costs of Head Start (No. w12973). National Bureau of Economic Research. Link