Maternal Adverse Childhood Experiences, Paternal Involvement, and Infant Health

Alexander Testa, Dylan B. Jackson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Objectives: To assess the interplay between maternal exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and father's acknowledgment of paternity (AOP; a proxy for paternal involvement) in the risk of low birth weight (<2500 grams) and preterm birth (<37 weeks) among offspring. Study design: Data come from the 2018 North Dakota and South Dakota Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System (n = 1896). Logistic regression models were used to assess low birth weight and preterm birth outcomes. Moderation analyses are conducted to assess the interaction between maternal ACEs and father's AOP. Results: Moderation analyses demonstrated a positive interaction between an accumulating number of maternal ACEs and being unmarried without AOP for low birth weight and preterm birth. Upon comparing newborns of unmarried women without AOP, those whose mothers were exposed to 4 or more ACEs had a 3.74 times greater probability of low birth weight (0.050 vs 0.187) and a 1.74 times greater probability of preterm birth (0.085 vs 0.148) than those whose mothers reported no ACE exposure. Conclusions: Exposure to accumulating ACEs substantially increases the risk of deleterious infant health outcomes, but only for newborns of unmarried women without AOP. Future research should assess the efficacy of interventions that can mitigate the impact of maternal ACEs in the absence of father's AOP.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)157-163.e1
JournalJournal of Pediatrics
StatePublished - Sep 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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