Infant Health and Future Childhood Adversity

Nancy E. Reichman, Hope Corman, Kelly Noonan, Manuel E. Jiménez

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Objective To investigate the extent to which disabling infant health conditions are associated with adverse childhood experiences at age 5. Methods We conducted a secondary analysis of data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study, a national urban birth cohort. We estimated logistic regression models of associations between the presence of a disabling infant health condition and the child’s ACE exposures at age 5, controlling for factors that preceded the child’s birth, including the mother’s sociodemographic characteristics, physical health, mental illness, and substance abuse and the parents’ criminal justice system involvement and domestic violence or sexual abuse. ACEs included 4 categories of child maltreatment (physical, sexual, psychological abuse, neglect) and 5 categories of household dysfunction (father absence, substance use, mental illness, caregiver treated violently, incarceration). Results 3.3% of the children were characterized as having a disabling health condition that was likely present at birth. Logistic regression estimates indicate that having a disabling infant health condition was associated with 83% higher odds of the child experiencing 2 or more ACEs (AOR 1.83, CI 1.14–2.94) and 73% higher odds of the child experiencing 3 or more ACEs (AOR 1.73, CI 1.07–2.77) at age 5. Conclusions for Practice The finding of strong links between disabling infant health conditions and ACEs at age 5 suggests that child health and ACEs play intertwining and mutually reinforcing roles during the early lifecourse and highlights the critical importance of investing in systems that simultaneously promote optimal child development and address childhood adversity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)318-326
Number of pages9
JournalMaternal and Child Health Journal
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


  • ACEs
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Child disability
  • Child health


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