Faculty Publications

Intergenerational Transmission Of Parental Adverse Childhood Experiences And Children’S Outcomes: A Scoping Review

Document Type



adverse childhood experiences, child outcomes, intergenerational transmission, scoping review

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Trauma, Violence, and Abuse


Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are among the leading environmental causes of morbidity and mortality. Extending research on within-generation effects, more recent scholarship has explored between-generation consequences of ACEs. Despite growing interest in the intergenerational effects of parents’ ACEs on children’s outcomes, this line of scholarship has yet to be coalesced into a comprehensive review. The current study is a scoping review on the intergenerational transmission of parental ACEs and children’s outcomes. Ten databases such as PubMed, APA PsycArticles, and Social Work Abstracts were searched. To be included, empirical studies must have been published in English and analyzed associations between a cumulative measure of at least four parental ACEs and children’s outcomes. Sixty-eight studies qualified for the review and, among these, 60 were published in the most recent 5 years (2018–2022). Fifty-one studies had sample sizes smaller than 500, and 55 focused on the effect of maternal ACEs. Nearly all studies demonstrated that parental ACEs could affect children’s outcomes directly or indirectly via mechanisms like maternal mental health problems or parenting-related factors. By scoping the extant literature, this review advances the knowledge base regarding the intergenerational impacts of parental childhood trauma and children’s outcomes. It also reveals methodological limitations that should be addressed in future research to strengthen causal inferences along with practical implications for interventions that aim to interrupt the intergenerational transmission of trauma.


Rod Library

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