Study Supports Strong Correlation Between Adverse Childhood Events and Developmental Delay

June 24, 2019

Photo of smiling children playing with blocks at a table.New research from the University of Kentucky College of Public Health (UKCPH) examines the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the risk of developmental, social, or behavioral delays in children between the ages of one and five. Prof. Sarah E. Cprek, lecturer in Health, Behavior & Society, is the first and corresponding author of "Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and Risk of Childhood Delays in Children Ages 1–5", published in Child and Adolescent Social Work Journal. The co-authors are all UKCPH-affiliated: MPH alumna Lucy H. Williamson, BPH alumnae Honour McDaniel and Rachel Brase, and Dr. Corrine Williams, associate professor of Health, Behavior & Society. 

 

In prior research, ACEs have been found to be important contributors to negative health outcomes throughout the lifespan. Experts further acknowledge that the period from birth to 5 years of age represents a critical period for brain development impacting cognitive, emotional, and social competencies. 

 

The UK investigators aimed to determine the association between overall ACE score and risk of developmental, social, or behavioral delay in a sample of children between the ages of one and five  years. Using data from the National Survey of Children’s Health, among a sample of 21, 139 children, approximately one in four children (27.3 percent) were found to have moderate to high risk of developmental, social, or behavioral delays. Investigators found a dose-response relationship between ACEs and risk of delay with results ranging from 24.2 percent among children with zero ACEs to 42.2 percent among those with four or more ACEs. Additional ACEs were found to increase risk of delay by 17 percent. Overall, the investigators found that the data currently supports a strong correlation between ACE score and risk of delay among children ages one to five.

 


 

The University of Kentucky College of Public Health is a catalyst of positive change for population health, with a mission to develop health champions, conduct multidisciplinary and applied research, and collaborate with partners to improve health in Kentucky and beyond.