Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Low-Income Latino Immigrant and Nonimmigrant Children

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Abstract

Objective

To estimate the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in low-income Latino children and examine differences in the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences by immigrant generational status.

Study design

This is a secondary data analysis of the 2011-2012 National Survey of Children's Health, a telephone survey of parents/caregivers of a nationally representative sample of US children. The study sample was limited to Latino children in households with an annual income ≤200% of the federal poverty level (FPL) whose parents responded to a 9-item inventory of adverse childhood experiences. Descriptive statistics estimated the prevalence of adverse childhood experiences and examined differences in prevalence by immigrant generational status.

Results

Of 22 297 children, 29% (n = 6483) were Latino (9% first generation, 57% second generation, 30% third or higher generation); 25% (n = 1692) of all Latino children were exposed to 2 or more adverse childhood experiences. Latino immigrant children had a lower prevalence (13%; n = 801) compared with nonimmigrant Latino children (40%; n = 772). The most common adverse childhood experiences were financial hardship and parent divorce/separation. The total number and mean number of adverse childhood experiences differed by child generational status, and the differences persisted after stratification by age and FPL. The prevalence of exposure to adverse childhood experiences was highest among third- or higher-generation nonimmigrant children and lowest among second-generation immigrant children.

Conclusions

The prevalence of adverse childhood experiences in low-income Latino children is similar to the prevalence for all US children; however, the prevalence is significantly higher in nonimmigrant children. Targeted screening to address adverse childhood experiences, policy changes, and guidance regarding care practices to address adverse childhood experiences in Latino children are needed.

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