Adverse childhood experiences and biomarkers of inflammation in a diverse cohort of early school-aged children

Nia Heard-Garris*, Matthew M. Davis, Ryne Estabrook, James Burns, Margaret Briggs-Gowan, Norrina Allen, Mercedes Carnethon, Liliana Aguayo, Lauren Wakschlag, Frank Penedo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


Objective: The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship between ACEs and inflammatory profiles (i.e., pro- and anti-) in early childhood and to examine whether patterns differ for racial/ethnic subgroups. Study design: Using longitudinal data from the Multidimensional Assessment of Preschoolers Study (MAPS) (N = 122), we examined the relationship between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) beginning at birth, C -reactive protein (CRP), and both pro-inflammatory (i.e., IL-1 β, IL-6, TNF, and CRP) and anti-inflammatory (i.e. IL-4 and IL-10) biomarkers during early school age (ages 6–8 years). Results: No children in the sample were reported to have experienced 0 ACES, 7% had 1 ACE, 51% had 2-3 ACEs, and 42% had 4 or more ACEs accumulated by the early school-age wave (ESA). There were no significant associations between cumulative ACEs and inflammatory markers. However, parental substance abuse, a specific ACE, was positively correlated with a pro-inflammatory profile at early school age (r = 0.18, p<.05). Specifically, substance abuse as an ACE was associated with higher levels of pro-inflammatory markers such as IL-1 β and IL-6. Additionally, Hispanics with ACEs had higher levels of CRP than Black and white individuals. Conclusions: Children with histories of ACEs, especially those with parental substance abuse, may have higher levels of inflammation. Better understanding the role of inflammation in the development of chronic diseases for individuals with ACEs may allow earlier identification and prevention of disease during childhood for those at the highest risk.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100006
JournalBrain, Behavior, and Immunity - Health
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Adverse childhood experiences
  • Inflammation
  • Young children

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nephrology


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