Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are related to increased risk of common mental disorders. This umbrella review of systematic reviews and meta-analyses aimed to identify the key ACEs that are consistently associated with increased risk of mental disorders and suicidality. We searched PsycINFO, PubMed, and Google Scholar for systematic reviews and meta-analyses on the association between ACEs and common mental disorders or suicidality published from January 1, 2009 until July 11, 2019. The methodological quality of included reviews was evaluated using the AMSTAR2 checklist. The effect sizes reported in each meta-analysis were combined using a random-effects model. Meta-regressions were conducted to investigate whether associations vary by gender or age of exposure to ACEs. This review is registered with PROSPERO (CRD42019146431). We included 68 reviews with moderate (55%), low (28%) or critically low (17%) methodological quality. The median number of included studies in these reviews was 14 (2–277). Across identified reviews, 24 ACEs were associated with increased risk of common mental disorders or suicidality. ACEs were associated with a two-fold higher odds of anxiety disorders (pooled odds ratios (ORs): 1.94; 95% CI 1.82, 2.22), internalizing disorders (OR 1.76; 1.59, 1.87), depression (OR 2.01; 1.86, 2.32) and suicidality (OR 2.33; 2.11, 2.56). These associations did not significantly (P > 0.05) vary by gender or the age of exposure. ACEs are consistently associated with increased risk of common mental disorders and suicidality. Well-designed cohort studies to track the impact of ACEs, and trials of interventions to prevent them or reduce their impact should be global research priorities.
- Adverse childhood experiences
- Evidence synthesis
- Mental health
- Umbrella review