Early life adversity affects two in three Scots children, study finds

Early life adversity affects two in three Scots children, study finds

 

Monday, 4 February, 2019

New research led by Dr Louise Marryat at the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences, suggests that wo thirds of children in Scotland experience an adverse life event, such as domestic violence or parental drug misuse before the age of eight.  Almost one quarter of children had experienced frequent physical punishment. One in five felt unloved or emotionally neglected. Some 14 per cent had been exposed to parental drug or alcohol misuse, while one in 10 had been exposed to domestic violence. One in 250 children had experienced a parent being sent to prison. Boys were more likely to have had three or more traumatic experiences, as were those whose mothers had fewer educational qualifications and who lived in deprived areas.

Dr Louise Marryat, Research Fellow in the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, said: “We know that adverse experiences in childhood are associated with physical and mental health problems in later life. This is the first study to assess the scale of the problem in a current population of young people in the UK. We hope the findings will help to explain the context of ACEs, and lead to increased support for the groups most at risk.”

The research is published in the journal BMJ Paediatrics Open. It was based on the Growing Up in Scotland study, which tracks the lives of children from birth through their teenage years and beyond. The Growing Up in Scotland study is funded by the Scottish Government and carried out by ScotCen Social Research.