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Adversities of Childhood Experience and School Readiness - Focus on children born to teen and non-teen mothers in the Growing Up in New Zealand data

This research looked at the prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) among children of teen mothers within the Growing Up in New Zealand (GUiNZ) cohort, and the extent to which the number of ACEs experienced by a teen mother and/or her child relates to a child’s school readiness. The study sample was relatively small, given there are only 301 teen mothers in the GUiNZ cohort data.


  • ACEs are more commonly experienced by children of teen mothers than by children of non-teen mothers, for example: 42.9% of children born to teen mothers had experienced two or more ACEs at age 54 months compared to 16.4% of children born to non-teen mothers.
  • Although it proved difficult to establish statistical significance in some cases, a consistent finding of a negative relationship between an increasing number of ACEs and a child’s school readiness was observed.
  • Poorer performance on school readiness tests at all levels of ACEs exposure however suggests the path to poor school outcomes for children of teen mothers is not purely via ACEs exposure, and that children born to teen mothers might benefit from support to improve school readiness, even if their observed ACE scores are low.

For enquiries about this research please email research@msd.govt.nz

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