Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is a significant public health issue for youth. However, traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been almost entirely overlooked in the ACEs and health outcomes literature, which has largely focused on the significant mental and behavioral health impact of ACEs. The goal the current study is to examine the association between ACEs and TBI among a nationally representative sample of adolescents in the United States and the extent to which ADHD and conduct problems inform this association. To assess this relationship, we use a sample of 42,204 adolescents (ages 12–17 years) in the United States whose caregivers were surveyed during the three most recent cohorts (2016–2018) of the National Survey of Children’s Health (NSCH). The results revealed a dose–response relationship between ACEs and TBI, even after accounting for an array of confounding variables. Findings also indicated that associations were of a greater magnitude among youth who are not sports-involved. Supplemental mediation analyses showed that ADHD and conduct problems attenuated associations between ACE exposure and TBI, but only in the absence of youth sports involvement. Given that both ACEs and TBI carry long-term consequences for health and well-being, the findings from this study draw attention to the need for early intervention and prevention programming (e.g. home visiting) that can reduce the prevalence of ACEs and a history of TBI among adolescents.
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All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
- Developmental and Educational Psychology
- Psychiatry and Mental health