Familial Childhood Adversity is Associated with Chronic Disease Among Women: Data from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing (GROW) Study

Matern Child Health J. 2019 Aug;23(8):1117-1129. doi: 10.1007/s10995-019-02758-9.


Objectives Few population-based studies on the relationship between childhood adversity and health in adulthood for women exist. Little is known about whether some social groups are more vulnerable to childhood adversity than other groups. Methods Using data from the Geographic Research on Wellbeing survey (GROW) conducted in California during 2012-2013, we examine associations between familial childhood adversities (FCAs) and a set of important chronic diseases and related conditions among women with young children, employing logistic regression models (N = 2409). Specifically, we test two measures of FCAs on the odds of reporting one or more chronic diseases or related-conditions (diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol, heart disease). We also examine whether the associations between the two measures and the dependent variables vary by social factors (race/ethnicity, marital status, education, income). Results Both FCA measures were associated with reporting one or more chronic diseases after controlling for a set of important sociodemographic factors. Each unit increase in the number of FCAs corresponded to about a 10% increase in the odds of reporting one or more chronic disease(s). Moderating effects were also observed, with greater impacts among more socially vulnerable groups. Furthermore, ancillary analyses demonstrated that diabetes and high cholesterol were the drivers of the relationship between FCAs and chronic disease. Conclusions for Practice The social ecological model framework suggests that childhood adversity can be considered at multiple levels; that is, a sustainable reduction in the adverse health impacts of childhood adversity requires a concerted effort among policymakers and practitioners that includes both "upstream" and "downstream" approaches.

Keywords: Adverse childhood experiences; Cholesterol; Diabetes; Heart disease; Hypertension.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Adverse Childhood Experiences / statistics & numerical data*
  • California / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / epidemiology
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Continental Population Groups / psychology
  • Continental Population Groups / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Odds Ratio
  • Poverty / statistics & numerical data
  • Risk Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires