Adverse childhood experiences and child behavioral health trajectory from early childhood to adolescence: A latent class analysis

Xiafei Wang, Ryan D. Heath, Daniel Majewski, Corinne Blake

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Background: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) profoundly influence child development. Different patterns of ACEs among boys and girls may be associated with different developmental trajectories. Objective: This study aimed to identify patterns of ACEs at age three and tested the associations of these patterns with child behavioral health problems from age three to age fifteen. Participants and setting: This study used data (N = 4898) from the Fragile Families Child Wellbeing Study. Methods: First, this study conducted latent class analysis (LCA) across ten indicators of ACEs at age 3. LCA was conducted separately for boys and girls. Second, class membership was tested for associations with child internalizing symptoms and externalizing behaviors (ages three, five, nine, and fifteen years). Results: LCA identified five classes of ACEs for girls: low ACEs, parental separation, financial difficulty, chaotic home, and child maltreatment. LCA for boys, however, identified a six-class solution, in which there was a physical abuse-only class, while also a sixth high ACEs class that included both physical and emotional abuse. Classes with the most ACEs often had the highest symptomology (internalizing symptoms ranging from 0.24 to 0.56; externalizing ranging from 0.36 to 1.00; ps < .05). However, differences in behavioral health were detected depending on the patterns of ACES. At ages nine and fifteen, the financial difficulty group also had high symptomatology (internalizing symptoms ranging from 0.23 to 0.43; externalizing from 0.23 to 0.46; ps < .05). Conclusions: Findings provide implications including the need to examine ACEs heterogeneity and address financial difficulty as a substantial ACE.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105879
JournalChild Abuse and Neglect
StatePublished - Dec 2022


  • Adolescence
  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Childhood
  • Externalizing behaviors
  • Internalizing symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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