Study one examined the link between ACEs and the risk of postpartum depression (PPD) in a racially/ethnically diverse sample of low-income women (N = 746) who were recruited to participate in the Longitudinal Infant and Family Environment (LIFE) study. The association between ACEs and PPD symptoms were tested via hierarchical linear regression. Results confirmed that a greater number of ACEs was positively associated with PPD symptoms, highlighting the need for timely screenings and interventions during the perinatal period.
Study two examined the connection between exposure to ACEs and parenting attitudes in a diverse sample of young women (N = 329). Participants completed an ACE questionnaire and the Adult Adolescent Parenting Inventory-2 (AAPI-2), a validated measure that is often used to assess child maltreatment risk. A latent class analysis revealed three distinct patterns of ACEs: (1) Low ACEs (63%), (2) High parental separation/divorce (20%), and (3) High multiple ACEs (17%). Compared to the other classes, women in the High multiple-ACEs group were more likely to report parenting attitudes that are associated with maltreatment risk. The findings imply that parenting attitudes may be a mediating mechanism underlying the intergenerational transmission of trauma.
Study three examined direct and indirect pathways between a mother's ACEs and her child's socio-emotional outcomes. Data derived from a racially/ethnically diverse sample of 626 low-income women with young children who participated in the Families and Children Thriving study. Participants reported their childhood and adult adversity as well as depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress symptoms, and they rated their child's socio-emotional development via responses to the Brief Infant-Toddler Social Emotional Assessment. A path analysis unveiled a positive association between maternal ACE scores and children's socio-emotional problems, which was mediated by mental health problems and adult adversity. The findings point to two other potential mediators of intergenerational trauma: retraumatization and poor maternal mental health.
Study four presents two promising trauma-responsive intervention strategies. Trauma Screening, Brief Intervention, and Referral to Treatment (T-SBIRT) is a brief protocol that non-clinical providers can use to link trauma-exposed adults to mental health care. Family Connects is a brief intervention that provides postpartum home visiting services and warm referrals to community-based resources. Results from prior studies of T-SBIRT and Family Connects will be synthesized, and new findings will be presented from a pilot project that integrates T-SBIRT within Family Connects. A closing discussion will underscore the need to develop active systems of care and to invest in two-generation programs that can interrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma.