Childhood adversity is robustly associated with poor health across the life course. However, very few studies have examined the prevalence and implications of childhood adversity in low- and middle-income countries, where poverty and HIV are often endemic. This study uses a standardized instrument to measure adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) among adolescents in Malawi. Respondents (age 10-16; N=2,089) were interviewed in their local language and health measures taken. Adolescents reported experiencing a high burden of adversity over their lifetime (i.e., reporting 5 ACEs on average). Exposure to each additional adversity was significantly associated with mental health outcomes (OR 1.21 for depression, OR 1.20 for PTSD) and self-reported health ratings. However, ACEs did not demonstrate a graded relationship with obesity, stunting or grip strength. These patterns are quite consistent with evidence from high-income countries, and suggest that primary prevention of ACEs should be a priority to ensure lifelong health in low-resources settings.
Presented in Session 63. International Perspectives on Adverse Childhood Experiences and Child/Youth Well-being