Relationship between adverse childhood experiences and the physical and mental health in Mexican adults

Blanca Patricia Nevárez-Mendoza, Gerardo Ochoa-Meza



Introduction. Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that people may experience during early life, including physical, psychological, and sexual abuse; neglect; and household dysfunction.

Objective. To evaluate the frequency of ACEs and their relationship with the mental and physical health of Mexican adults.

Method. 389 people between 18 and 65 years old were included in a cross-sectional study with an incidental sample and voluntary participation. Subjects responded to the ACEs questionnaire, the PHQ-9, the GAD-7, and the PHQ-15. Logistic regression models were used to evaluate the association between ACEs and adult health conditions.

Results. 75% reported at least one type of adversity, and 31.4% reported three or more. Reporting three or more ACEs was associated with an increased odds ratio for depression (OR = 5.04, 95% CI [2.38, 10.68]), anxiety (OR = 3.33, 95% CI [1.09, 6.99]), psychosomatic severity (OR = 4.58, 95% CI [2.53, 8.29]), obesity (OR = 2.08, 95% CI [1.21, 3.59]), and limitations due to physical or emotional discomfort (OR = 5.90, 95% CI [2.88, 12.09]). Higher anxiety was associated with sexual abuse (OR = 2.12 95% CI [.92, 4.85]) and witnessing violence (OR = 5.09, 95% CI [1.04, 24.77]). The probability of psychosomatic severity was higher if reported sexual abuse increased (OR = 1.94 95% CI [.06, 3.54]) and emotional neglect (OR = 1.84, 95% CI [1.02, 3.32]).

Discussion and conclusion. ACEs are associated to mental health difficulties and psychosomatic symptoms. The relationship between different types of adversity and health is confirmed.


Adverse childhood experiences; depression; anxiety; psychosomatic symptoms; health

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