Association Between Adverse Childhood Experiences at Age 5 Years and Healthcare Utilization at Age 9 Years

Publication Year


Journal Article

The objective of this article was to determine associations between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) at age 5 years and healthcare utilization patterns at age 9 years.

Researchers conducted a secondary analysis using longitudinal data from the Fragile Families and Child Wellbeing Study. Caregivers (n = 2521) provided data on their child's ACEs at age 5 years and on 4 types of healthcare utilization at age 9 years: past-year well visits, dental visits, primary care sick visits for injury or illness, and emergency room (ER) visits. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between ACEs at age 5 and each type of healthcare utilization, adjusting for relevant sociodemographic covariates. Among the 2521 children (51% male, 48% Non-Hispanic Black), 77% had ≥1 ACE at age 5. Children with ≥4 ACEs had lower odds of a dental visit (aOR, 0.51; 95% CI, 0.29-0.91) and higher odds of a primary care sick visit (aOR, 1.77; 95% CI, 1.20-2.64) and an ER visit (aOR, 1.70; 95% CI, 1.11-2.59) compared with children with no reported ACEs. Our findings demonstrate suboptimal healthcare utilization patterns among families with ACEs and indicate a need for targeted interventions that support appropriate healthcare utilization for children who endure adversity.

The Journal of Pediatrics