Childhood Trauma in Parents Linked to Child’s Behavioral Health Issues

Published Date : Jul 11, 2018

According to a new research, parents that have suffered severe trauma and stress in their childhood are more likely to have children with high rates of behavioral health issues. The hardships that have been looked into include physical, emotion or sexual abuse, separation or divorce of parents, estrangement from or death of a parent, substance abuse exposure in the household, violence in the home, or mental illness of a parent.

While earlier studies have focused more on childhood trauma as a potential risk factor for a number of mental and physical health issues later in adulthood, this is the first such research that puts light on the long-term effects, in terms of behavioral health impacts, of childhood trauma and its extension over generations as it is passed on from a parent to a child. The research demonstrates that the children of people who have themselves faced four or more traumatic experiences as a child had twice the amount risk of having ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and were nearly four times as likely to have mental health issues.

The study also suggests that childhood trauma in a mother showed to be having a more adverse impact on the behavioral health of children as compared to the father’s childhood experiences. Parents who have lives through traumatic and adverse experiences as children were more likely to have mental health issues while also reporting higher levels of aggravation. However, these factors explained only about a 1/4th of the association to the heightened behavioral health conditions of their children. The rest of the association between the adverse childhood experiences of a parent to the behavioral patterns of their children need further research.

The results of the study add to the evidence advocating standardized examination of the adverse childhood experiences of parents during health visits for children. The data for the study was gathered from a national survey that included data from four generation of American families, including data from parents regarding abuse, neglect, maltreatment, or exposure to family stress and data regarding behavior problems and medically proven ADHD in their children.