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This study expanded the Benevolent Childhood Experiences scale (termed the “BCEs-Original” scale) with 10 new multisystem items and identified a subset of items (termed the “BCEs-Revised” scale) that are systematically less commonly reported across samples. Total BCEs-Revised scores were tested against total BCEs-Original scores and three dimensions of childhood adversity (maltreatment, threat, and deprivation) as predictors of young adulthood mental health problems (depression, anxiety, and PTSD symptoms). Hypotheses expected stronger inverse associations of BCEs-Revised scores than BCEs-Original scores with all mental health problems. Participants were 1,746 U.S. young adults (M = 26.6 years, SD = 4.7, range = 19–35 years; 55.3% female, 42.4% male, 2.3% gender non-conforming; 67.0% White, 10.3% Asian, 8.6% Black, 8.4% Latine, 5.7% other) who completed a 20-item BCEs scale and well-validated instruments on childhood adversities and mental health problems. Compared to BCEs-Original scores, BCEs-Revised scores were significantly more strongly inversely associated with all mental health outcomes. Compared to childhood threat and deprivation, maltreatment was significantly more strongly associated with PTSD symptoms. After controlling for current depression symptoms, BCEs-Revised scores interacted with maltreatment to predict PTSD symptoms. Maltreatment and BCEs-Revised scores also influenced PTSD symptoms in person-oriented analyses. The BCEs-Revised scale has strong psychometric properties and unique strengths in research and practice. Implications for multisystem resilience are discussed.
Pregnancy is a time of increased vulnerability to psychopathology, yet limited work has investigated the extent to which variation in psychopathology during pregnancy is shared and unshared across syndromes and symptoms. Understanding the structure of psychopathology during pregnancy, including associations with childhood experiences, may elucidate risk and resilience factors that are transdiagnostic and/or specific to particular psychopathology phenotypes. Participants were 292 pregnant individuals assessed using multiple measures of psychopathology. Confirmatory factor analyses found evidence for a structure of psychopathology consistent with the Hierarchical Taxonomy of Psychopathology (HiTOP). A common transdiagnostic factor accounted for most variation in psychopathology, and both adverse and benevolent childhood experiences (ACEs and BCEs) were associated with this transdiagnostic factor. Furthermore, pregnancy-specific anxiety symptoms most closely reflected the dimension of Fear, which may suggest shared variation with manifestations of fear that are not pregnancy-specific. ACEs and BCEs also linked to specific prenatal psychopathology involving thought problems, detachment, and internalizing, externalizing, antagonistic, and antisocial behavior. These findings extend the dimensional and hierarchical HiTOP model to pregnant individuals and show how maternal childhood risk and resilience factors relate to common and specific forms of psychopathology during pregnancy as a period of enhanced vulnerability.
The pregnancy period represents a unique window of opportunity to identify risks to both the fetus and mother and to deter the intergenerational transmission of adversity and mental health problems. Although the maternal–fetal dyad is especially vulnerable to the effects of stress during pregnancy, less is known about how the dyad is also receptive to salutary, resilience-promoting influences. The present review adopts life span and intergenerational perspectives to review four key areas of research. The first part describes how pregnancy is a sensitive period for both the mother and fetus. In the second part, the focus is on antecedents of maternal prenatal risks pertaining to prenatal stress response systems and mental health. The third part then turns to elucidating how these alterations in prenatal stress physiology and mental health problems may affect infant and child outcomes. The fourth part underscores how pregnancy is also a time of heightened fetal receptivity to maternal and environmental signals, with profound implications for adaptation. This section also reviews empirical evidence of promotive and protective factors that buffer the mother and fetus from developmental and adaptational problems and covers a sample of rigorous evidence-based prenatal interventions that prevent maladaptation in the maternal–fetal dyad before babies are born. Finally, recommendations elaborate on how to further strengthen understanding of pregnancy as a period of multilevel risk and resilience, enhance comprehensive prenatal screening, and expand on prenatal interventions to promote maternal–fetal adaptation before birth.
This replication study examined protective effects of positive childhood memories with caregivers (“angels in the nursery”) against lifespan and intergenerational transmission of trauma. More positive, elaborated angel memories were hypothesized to buffer associations between mothers’ childhood maltreatment and their adulthood posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression symptoms, comorbid psychopathology, and children's trauma exposure. Participants were 185 mothers (M age = 30.67 years, SD = 6.44, range = 17–46 years, 54.6% Latina, 17.8% White, 10.3% African American, 17.3% other; 24% Spanish speaking) and children (M age = 42.51 months; SD = 15.95, range = 3–72 months; 51.4% male). Mothers completed the Angels in the Nursery Interview (Van Horn, Lieberman, & Harris, 2008), and assessments of childhood maltreatment, adulthood psychopathology, children's trauma exposure, and demographics. Angel memories significantly moderated associations between maltreatment and PTSD (but not depression) symptoms, comorbid psychopathology, and children's trauma exposure. For mothers with less positive, elaborated angel memories, higher levels of maltreatment predicted higher levels of psychopathology and children's trauma exposure. For mothers with more positive, elaborated memories, however, predictive associations were not significant, reflecting protective effects. Furthermore, protective effects against children's trauma exposure were significant only for female children, suggesting that angel memories may specifically buffer against intergenerational trauma from mothers to daughters.
There is growing evidence that many offspring of parents with bipolar disorder (BD) will develop moderate to severe forms of psychopathology during childhood and adolescence, including thought problems. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the developmental progression of thought problems within the context of a family risk study. Repeated assessments of thought problems, spanning approximately 15 years, were conducted in offspring (N = 192 from 98 families) of parents diagnosed with BD (O-BD), unipolar depression (O-UNI), or no significant psychiatric or medical problems (O-WELL). Survival analysis showed that the O-BD group had the greatest estimated probability of developing thought problems over time, followed by O-UNI, and then O-WELL and O-BD exhibiting higher levels of persistence than O-WELL. Parent-reported thought problems in childhood and adolescence predicted a range of problems in young adulthood. Disturbances in reality testing and other atypical behaviors are likely to disrupt progression through important developmental periods and to associate with poor outcomes. These findings are likely relevant to preventing the occurrence or progression of problems in offspring of bipolar parents. The study of thought problems across development represents an important area of continued research in children at risk for development of affective disorders.
This study investigated the prospective pathways of children's exposure to interparental violence (EIPV) in early and middle childhood and externalizing behavior in middle childhood and adolescence as developmental predictors of dating violence perpetration and victimization at ages 23 and 26 years. Participants (N = 168) were drawn from a longitudinal study of low-income families. Path analyses examined whether timing or continuity of EIPV predicted dating violence and whether timing or continuity of externalizing behavior mediated these pathways. Results indicated that EIPV in early childhood directly predicted perpetration and victimization at age 23. There were significant indirect effects from EIPV to dating violence through externalizing behavior in adolescence and life stress at age 23. Independent of EIPV, externalizing behavior in middle childhood also predicted dating violence through externalizing behavior in adolescence and life stress at age 23, but this pathway stemmed from maltreatment. These results highlight that the timing of EIPV and both the timing and the continuity of externalizing behavior are critical risks for the intergenerational transmission of dating violence. The findings support a developmental perspective that negative early experiences and children's externalizing behavior are powerful influences for dating violence in early adulthood.
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