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A study reported in the journal Pediatrics this month linked adverse childhood experiences before age 5 with poor academic and behavioral performance in kindergarten.

Study links kindergartners' struggles with learning to adverse home experiences

Kaiser Health News

Very young children who endure neglect, abuse and dysfunctional home lives go on to struggle as kindergartners, leaving them at risk for more difficult years as adolescents and adults, a new study finds.

Adverse childhood experiences before age 5 were linked with poor academic and behavioral performance in kindergarten, said researchers who examined a sample of about 1,000 urban children.

Their study was reported in the journal Pediatrics last month.

"Relative to children with no ACEs, children who experienced ACEs had increased odds of having below-average academic skills including poor literacy skills, as well as attention problems, social problems, and aggression, placing them at significant risk for poor school achievement, which is associated with poor health," the authors said.

The adverse experiences included varieties of maltreatment  psychological, physical or sexual abuse or neglect  as well as household dysfunction  such as maternal depression, substance abuse, incarceration or violence toward the mother.

Forty-five percent of the children in the study had no adverse experiences, 27 percent had one, 16 percent had two and 12 percent had three or more.

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