The Impact of Paternal Childhood Adversity on Offspring Health


Wade, Roy; Brant, Marisa; Sammel, Mary; Berkowitz, Steven; Bale, Tracy; Epperson, Cynthia; & Lorch, Scott (2017). The Impact of Paternal Childhood Adversity on Offspring Health. Pediatric Academic Societies. San Franscisco, CA.


Background: Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect, and household stressors have been associated with a number of childhood health conditions including developmental delay and physiologic problems. Animal models support the role for transgenerational transmission of ACEs to offspring. However, most human studies focus on maternal stress and ACEs. Objective: To determine the impact of paternal ACE exposure on adverse birth outcomes such as low birth weight and adverse childhood outcomes including fair to poor health, neurocognitive impairment, and physiologic dysregulation. Design/Methods: We constructed a longitudinal cohort of males with at least 1 liveborn child who were recruited as adolescents in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health and followed for 15 years (N=1865 males with 3130 children). Univariable and multivariable logistic regression analyses of paternal childhood adversity and pregnancy/offspring outcomes was conducted controlling for socioeconomic factors, mental health; history of incarceration; smoking, alcohol, and drug use (pregnancy and child outcomes); and offspring sex, age and respondent offspring relationship (child outcomes). Results: Nearly 15% of the respondents experienced 4+ ACEs. Childhood incarcerated care providers, physical and sexual abuse (prevalence 13.3%, 26.7%, and 6.8%, respectively) had the highest proportion of low birth weight children (incarcerated care providers (11.2%), physical abuse (10.3%), and sexual abuse (16.0%)) Children born to respondents endorsing childhood sexual abuse had the highest prevalence of fair or poor rated health (39.5%) while children born to respondents endorsing childhood physical abuse had the highest proportion of neurocognitive impairment (7.6%). Low birth weight remained associated with paternal childhood incarcerated care providers (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.0-3.3). In multivariable analyses, children born to men endorsing childhood incarcerated care providers exhibited a significantly increased risk for fair to poor rated health (OR 4.3, 95% CI 1.2-15.7) while offspring of men citing childhood physical abuse demonstrated an increased risk for developmental, behavioral, learning problems, and ADHD (OR 1.8, 95% CI 1.1-2.8). Conclusion(s): Paternal early life stress demonstrated a significant association with adverse offspring outcomes. Future work is necessary to understand the underlying mechanisms through which these childhood experiences negatively impact the well being of offspring.

Reference Type

Conference proceeding

Book Title

Pediatric Academic Societies


Wade, Roy
Brant, Marisa
Sammel, Mary
Berkowitz, Steven
Bale, Tracy
Epperson, Cynthia
Lorch, Scott

Year Published


City of Publication

San Franscisco, CA

Reference ID