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You are here: Home / MPRC People / Natalie Slopen, Sc.D. / Natalie Slopen Publications / Inequalities in the distribution of childhood adversity from birth to 11 years

Meredith O'Connor, Natalie Slopen, Laia Becares, David Burgner, David R Williams, and Naomi Priest (In press)

Inequalities in the distribution of childhood adversity from birth to 11 years

Academic Pediatrics.

Objective

Exposure to early adversity carries long term harmful consequences for children's health and development. This study aims to 1) estimate the prevalence of childhood adversity for Australian children from infancy to 10-11 years, and 2) document inequalities in the distribution of adversity according to socioeconomic position (SEP), Indigenous status, and ethnicity.

Methods

Adversity was assessed every two years from 0-1 to 10-11 years in the nationally representative birth cohort of the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (N=5,107). Adversity included legal problems; family violence; household mental illness; household substance abuse; harsh parenting; parental separation/divorce; unsafe neighborhood; family member death; and bullying (from 4-5 years). Adversities were examined individually and summed for a measure of multiple adversity (2+ adverse experiences).

Results

By 10-11 years, 52.8% (95% CI 51.0-54.7) of children had been exposed to two or more adversities. When combined with low SEP, children from ethnic minority and from Indigenous backgrounds had four to eight times the odds of exposure to two or more adversities than children from higher SEP Anglo-Euro backgrounds, respectively (OR 4.3, 95% CI 2.8-6.6 and OR 8.1, 95% CI 4.4-14.8). Ethnic minority and Indigenous children from higher SEP backgrounds had increased odds of exposure to multiple adversity than similarly advantaged Anglo-Euro children (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.4-2.3 and OR 2.3, 95% CI 1.3-4.3, respectively).

Conclusions

Addressing early adversity is a significant opportunity to promote health over the life course, and reduce health inequalities experienced by marginalized groups of children.

Slopen, Health Disparities, Child health, Socioeconomic position, Childhood, Health, Ethnicity, Child care, Health in Social Context, Adversity
Available online: December 11th, 2019

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