Adverse experiences more common among children raised by grandparents


Children in grandparent-led households are much more likely to have a history of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), according to a study published online Aug. 3 in Pediatrics.

Eli Rapoport, from the Steven and Alexandra Cohen Children’s Medical Center of New York in Lake Success, and colleagues used data from the National Survey of Children’s Health to characterize grandparent-headed households with respect to childhood adversity, child temperament, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and caregiver aggravation and coping. These factors were compared between grandparent- and parent-headed households.

The researchers found that among 80,646 households, there were 2,407 grandparent-headed households. Children experienced more ACEs in grandparent-headed households. ADHD was more likely among both preschool-age and school-age children in grandparent-headed households (adjusted odds ratios, 4.29 and 1.72, respectively). Additionally, in grandparent-headed households, school-age children had poorer temperament and their caregivers experienced greater aggravation. However, after removing children with ADHD from the sample, these differences were not sustained. For caregiver coping, emotional support, or interactions with children, there were no differences between grandparent- and parent-headed households.

“In a large, nationally representative U.S. sample, ADHD and childhood adversity appear to be responsible for some of the behavioral/developmental disparities observed between grandparent- and parent-headed households,” the authors write. “No differences in caregiver coping and emotional support between these households were found.”