A new study suggests that parents who suffered traumatic experiences throughout their childhood have a higher risk of mental health and behavioral problems later in life. The study also found that these problems can also affect their children.
The researchers of the study from the University of California at Los Angeles found that parents who suffered from severe hardships were more likely to have mental health problems during their adulthood. These traumas include sexual abuse, emotional abuse, parents divorcing, witnessing violence at home, or substance abuse in the household.
The study also showed that children whose parents had four or more negative childhood experiences were at doubled risk of developing attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and were also four times more likely to have mental health issues. A mother who had a traumatic childhood had a higher detrimental effect on their child's behavior than the father who may have had similar experiences.
"Previous research has looked at childhood trauma as a risk factor for later physical and mental health problems in adulthood, but 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. Adam Schickedanz, lead author of the study, stated.
Years Of Trauma
The researchers used samples from the 2014 Child Development Supplement, which was a previous study on families and 2,529 children from those families that partook in the 2014 Childhood Retrospective Circumstances Study.
The children's behavioral issues were measured by a scale called the behavior problems index. Parents or caregivers of children between the ages of 3 and 17 years old were given a set of questions regarding any present problems, including depression, aggression, and hyperactivity.
This study found a link between children with a very high rate of behavioral issues and parents who had a traumatic childhood. The researchers of the study continued that they will continue to explore if these intergenerational traumatic events are linked to more than one generation. The next step for the researchers is to uncover if the grandparents of the parents who suffered adverse childhood events are also linked to their grandchildren's behavioral health.
Researchers also commented that while this study focuses on the behavioral consequences of negative childhood experiences, other studies have suggested traumatic childhood events can also lead to a person's physical health being at risk. This could lead to a person dying at an early age or having a chronic disease.