Exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is not only associated with one's adverse health outcomes in adulthood but also increases the risk of child developmental problems in offspring. However, the mechanisms involved in the transmission of the effects of maternal ACEs to the offspring largely remain unexplored. This study sought to identify possible psychosocial pathways of intergenerational effects of maternal ACEs on child development at 6 months. Data from a longitudinal study on maternal childhood adversity and maternal psychosocial risk during pregnancy as well as maternal mental health problems and child development at 6 months postnatal were used. Structural equation modeling with bootstrapping was used to estimate the indirect effects of maternal ACEs on child development at 6 months. The model showed that maternal ACEs indirectly influenced offspring's development via maternal stressful events during pregnancy and pre- and postnatal mental health problems. This finding highlights the possible interventions at the prenatal and postnatal periods. Early identification of women who have ACEs or who are at psychosocial risk during pre- and postnatal periods is critical to provide interventions to buffer those negative effects on offspring's development. Future studies are needed to longitudinally assess the effects of maternal ACEs on child development over time.
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