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Adverse childhood experiences and all-cause mortality risk in adulthood

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posted on 2023-09-14, 14:04 authored by Sinéad D'Arcy-Bewick, Nicholas Turiano, Angelina R.Sutin, Antonio Terracciano, Páraic Ó SúilleabháinPáraic Ó Súilleabháin

Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) have been associated with mortality risk in adulthood. It is unclear, however, whether ACEs perpetrated beyond parents may be associated with mortality risk, if the risk is accumulative or plateaus at a certain frequency, whether associations differ dependent on ACE types, whether types interact with one another, or if observed effects differ by sex.

Objective: To examine associations between ACEs and mortality risk.

Participants and setting: 6319 participants (age range 25–74 years, mean [SD] 46.91 [12.95] years; 51.6 % female) followed from 1995/96 to 2018 as part of the survey of Midlife Development in the United States.

Methods: ACE variables were self-reported exposure to 20 ACE types from five categories: physical abuse, emotional abuse, socioeconomic disadvantage, adverse family structure, and poor health at age 16 years. Cox proportional hazards models were used to estimate mortality risk.

Results: ACEs were accumulatively associated with increased mortality risk in adjusted models (HR = 1.033; p ≤ .001, 95 % CI, 1.014–1.053). The association was linear. Only physical abuse (HR = 1.05; p = .024, 95 % CI, 1.01–1.10) remained significantly predictive of increased mortality risk adjusting for other types. No interaction by sex or amongst ACE types was observed.

Conclusions: ACEs may be cumulatively associated with increased mortality risk, such that each individual ACE increases risk. Physical abuse may be an important ACE type within a mortality risk context. Individual ACE types warrant further study as each type may have their own differential impact on mortality risk.



Child Abuse & Neglect, 2023, 144, 106386



Other Funding information

There are no conflicts of interest. MIDUS was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network, National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166), National institute on Aging (U19-AG051426) funding. This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

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