Integrative Review of Pregnancy Health Risks and Outcomes Associated With Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Objective:To identify pregnancy risk factors and outcomes associated with a woman's history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and summarize what is known about routine screening for ACEs as part of prenatal care.Data Sources:The Academic Search Premier, Academic Search Complete, CINAHL, Health Source: Nursing Academic Edition, MEDLINE, PsychINFO, and PubMed databases were searched. The terms adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, trauma informed care, and childhood trauma were each paired individually with the terms pregnancy or pregnant or prenatal or antenatal or perinatal or maternal; obstetrics; and maternal–child health.Study Selection:Database and reference list searches resulted in 1,626 articles with 230 retained for full review and 17 included in the final sample. Studies were included if results were reported specific to pregnancy and ACEs as operationally defined in the ACE Study.Data Extraction:Studies were evaluated for methodologic quality using Joanna Briggs Institute appraisal tools. Data were extracted with the matrix method. Tabular synthesis was used to cluster and compare findings and identify themes.Data Synthesis:Five categories of pregnancy health risks and outcomes related to ACEs were identified: physiologic risk, psychologic risk, social risk, behavioral risk, and negative pregnancy outcomes. Limited research was found on routine screening for ACEs as part of prenatal care, but findings indicated women's support for ACE screening during prenatal appointments.Conclusion:Routine prenatal ACE screening may be accepted by women and may help identify significant pregnancy health risks. This could provide opportunities for interventions that improve pregnancy outcomes. More research is needed to determine the most effective and efficient methods to screen pregnant women for ACEs and intervene for those with high screening scores. To optimally advance science in this area, conceptual and operational clarity in ACE research is important. Nurses should be at the forefront of these research and practice translation efforts.

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