Study shows early family and community support are essential to children’s academic success

TORONTO, May 5, 2018 – A new study found that as childhood stress increases, school performance and attitudes decrease in a strong and graded fashion. Similarly, children with increased family and community protective factors have improved outcomes in school. Findings from the study will be presented during the Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) 2018 Meeting in Toronto.

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are associated with poor outcomes in adults. However, the impact of ACEs on school performance and factors that may be protective are not well studied.

To conduct the study, a cross-sectional analysis of demographically weighted data from over 65,000 children, between the ages of six and 17 in the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children Health (NSCH) was performed. In the survey were nine ACE questions based on negative experiences, and graded questions on protective factors (PROs), including safe neighborhood, non-smoking environments and meals. School outcome measurements were attendance, homework completion and attitude towards school itself.

"Our study showed a strong correlation between childhood stresses and poor school performance," said Dr. Angelica Robles, one of the authors of the study. "Similarly, strong PRO scores revealed improved school outcomes. Primary care providers, clinicians and educators should consider screening for both ACEs and PROs in order to identify risks and strengths to guide treatment and referral."

Dr. Angelica Robles will present the abstract, "Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences & Protective Factors with School Performance & Attitudes in School Age Children," during the PAS 2018 Meeting on Tuesday, May 8 at 9:45 a.m. EDT. Reporters interested in an interview with Dr. Robles should contact [email protected]

Please note: Only the abstract is being presented at the meeting. In some cases, the researcher may have additional data to share with media.

The PAS 2018 Meeting, taking place in Toronto on May 5-8, 2018, brings together thousands of pediatric scientists and other health care providers to improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information about the PAS 2018 Meeting, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org.

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About The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting

The Pediatric Academic Societies (PAS) Meeting brings together thousands of pediatricians and other health care providers united by a common mission: improve the health and well-being of children worldwide. This international gathering includes researchers, academics, as well as clinical care providers and community practitioners. Presentations cover issues of interest to generalists as well as topics critical to a wide array of specialty and sub-specialty areas. The PAS Meeting is produced through a partnership of four pediatric organizations that are leaders in the advancement of pediatric research and child advocacy: American Pediatric Society, Society for Pediatric Research, Academic Pediatric Association and American Academy of Pediatrics. For more information, please visit http://www.pas-meeting.org. Follow us on Twitter @PASMeeting and #PAS2018, or like us on Facebook.

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PAS Press Office (May 5-8, 2018):
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Abstract: Associations of Adverse Childhood Experiences & Protective Factors with School Performance & Attitudes in School Age Children

Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are associated with poor outcomes in adults. The impact of ACEs on school performance & factors that may be protective are not well studied.

Objective: Determine if there is an association of ACEs and Protective familial & community factors with school performance & attitudes in children 6-17 yo.

Design/Methods: A cross-sectional analysis of demographically weighted data from 65,680 children 6-17 yo in the 2011/2012 National Survey of Children's Health (NSCH) was performed. The survey identified 9 ACE questions based on the original CDC study. ACEs were categorized into 0, 1, 2, 3, & ?4 ACEs. Protective factors (PROs) included safe neighborhood, supportive neighbors, Neighborhood has pathways, parks, library & rec center, No smoking in the household, ?5 family meals/week, Parent & child can talk about things that matter/share ideas, & Well-kept neighborhood. PROs were categorized into ?3, 4, 5, 6, & 7 PROs. School outcomes included child repeated ?1 school grade, never/rarely/sometimes (N/R/S) completes homework, & N/R/S cares about school. Chi square and multiple logistic regressions were used to assess the relationship between ACEs & school outcomes, and PROs & school outcomes controlling for gender, age, race, ethnicity, & maternal education.

Results: Refer to Tables & Figures. According to the NSCH, 53% of 6-17 yos in the US had 0 ACEs, 23% 1 ACE, 11% 2 ACEs, 6% 3 ACEs, & 7.5% ?4 ACEs. 22% had all 7 PROs, 38% 6 PROs, 26% 5 PROs, 10% 4 PROs, & 4% ?3 PROs. 9% repeated ?1 grades, 13% N/R/S completed homework, & 14% N/R/S cared about school. Each negative school outcome was associated with higher ACE scores & lower PRO scores. In adjusted models children with ?4 ACEs were most likely to repeat ?1 grade (aOR=3.06, CI 2.44, 3.83), N/R/S complete homework (aOR=4.96, CI 4.08,6.03), & N/R/S care about school (aOR=3.71, CI 3.08, 4.46). Children with ?3 PROs were most likely to repeat ?1 grade (aOR=2.42, CI 1.80, 3.27), N/R/S complete homework (aOR=5.33, CI 4.06, 6.99), & N/R/S care about school (aOR=3.76, CI 2.97, 4.77).

Conclusion(s): As the ACE score (childhood stress) increases, school performance and attitudes decrease in a strong & graded fashion. Similarly, as the PRO score (family & community protective factors) increases, school outcomes improve in a strong & graded fashion. Primary care providers, clinicians & educators should consider screening for both ACEs & PROs in order to identify risks and strengths to guide treatment & referral.

Authors: Angelica Robles, Annie Gjelsvik, Priya Hirway, Patrick Vivier, Pamela High

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