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Am J Prev Med. 2019 May;56(5):756-764. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2018.11.030. Epub 2019 Mar 21.

A Systematic Review of Trials to Improve Child Outcomes Associated With Adverse Childhood Experiences.

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Departments of Preventive Medicine and Pediatrics, Loma Linda University, Loma Linda, California. Electronic address:
Claremont Graduate University,School of Community and Global Health, Claremont, California.



The purpose of this systematic literature review was to summarize current evidence from RCTs for the efficacy of interventions involving pediatric health care to prevent poor outcomes associated with adverse childhood experiences measured in childhood (C-ACEs).


On January 18, 2018, investigators searched PubMed, PsycInfo, SocIndex, Web of Science, Cochrane, and reference lists for English language RCTs involving pediatric health care and published between January 1, 1990, and December 31, 2017. Studies were included if they were (1) an RCT, (2) on a pediatric population, and (3) recruited or screened based on exposure to C-ACEs. Investigators extracted data about the study sample and recruitment strategy, C-ACEs, intervention and control conditions, intermediate and child outcomes, and significant associations reported.


A total of 22 articles describing results of 20 RCTs were included. Parent mental illness/depression was the most common C-ACE measured, followed by parent alcohol or drug abuse, and domestic violence. Most interventions combined parenting education, social service referrals, and social support for families of children aged 0-5years. Five of six studies that directly involved pediatric primary care practices improved outcomes, including three trials that involved screening for C-ACEs. Eight of 15 studies that measured child health outcomes, and 15 of 17 studies that assessed the parent-child relationship, demonstrated improvement.


Multicomponent interventions that utilize professionals to provide parenting education, mental health counseling, social service referrals, or social support can reduce the impact of C-ACEs on child behavioral/mental health problems and improve the parent-child relationship for children aged 0-5years.

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