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LOS ANGELES, Calif. (CBS Local) – A new study has found a link between the stressful childhoods some parents endured and the behavioral issues their own children develop.
Dr. Adam Schickedanz, of the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, says adults who suffered severe stress or trauma during their childhood are more likely to produce children who are diagnosed with behavioral and mental health illnesses.
“This is the first research to show that the long-term behavioral health harms of childhood adversity extend across generations from parent to child,” Dr. Schickedanz said in a university release.
The study, published in the journal Pediatrics, examined thousands of children and their parents who were all part of the 2014 Child Development Supplement (CDS) and 2014 Childhood Retrospective Circumstances Study (CRCS).
The results found that parents who reported having four or more adverse childhood experiences (ACE) had double the risk of having children with ADHD. Those parents were also four times more likely to have a child who suffers from mental health problems.
An ACE was described by the scientists as any kind of abuse, neglect, or household dysfunction that may have occurred before the age of 18. “Higher ACE scores help us to predict behavioral health problems in childhood and adulthood, worsening mental health, adverse health-related behaviors, chronic disease burden, and premature mortality,” UCLA researchers wrote.
“If we can identify these children who are at a higher risk, we can connect them to services that might reduce their risk or prevent behavioral health problems,” Schickedanz added.