Identifying adverse childhood experiences in pediatrics to prevent chronic health conditions

Andrew J. Barnes, Bruno J. Anthony, Canan Karatekin, Katherine A. Lingras, Rebeccah Mercado, Lindsay Acheson Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

34 Scopus citations


Despite evidence that over 40% of youth in the United States have one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and that ACEs have cumulative, pernicious effects on lifelong health, few primary care clinicians routinely ask about ACEs. Lack of standardized and accurate clinical assessments for ACEs, combined with no point-of-care biomarkers of the “toxic stress” caused by ACEs, hampers prevention of the health consequences of ACEs. Thus, there is no consensus regarding how to identify, screen, and track ACEs, and whether early identification of toxic stress can prevent disease. In this review, we aim to clarify why, for whom, when, and how to identify ACEs in pediatric clinical care. To do so, we examine the evidence for such identification; describe the efficacy and accuracy of potential screening instruments; discuss current trends in, and potential barriers to, the identification of ACEs and the prevention of downstream effects; and recommend next steps for research, practice, and policy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)362-370
Number of pages9
JournalPediatric Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We wish to thank Beth Auslander, Ph.D., M.S., University of Texas Medical Branch Department of Pediatrics, for her contributions to this paper. Funding for this study was covered in part by the Child Health Research Acceleration Through Multisite Planning Pilot funding and the UC Irvine Grant UL1TR001414 and the Children’s National Grant UL1TR001876.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, International Pediatric Research Foundation, Inc.


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