Reducing ACEs Through Prenatal Strategies

Reducing ACEs Through Prenatal Strategies

With support from United Way of Central Iowa and Central Iowa ACEs 360, I have authored a report highlighting the need for en­hanced prenatal programs and strategies to reduce early childhood trauma and prevent intergenerational effects of parental adverse childhood experiences. Reducing ACEs Through Prenatal Strategies examines the research supporting these strategies, describes current programs in the Central Iowa area, and identifies opportunities for growth.


In expanding prenatal efforts, Central Iowa can build on three major program activities. First, area hospitals offer childbirth education classes – either in core instruction or separate modules – that address infant care, parental stress, the risk of physical injury, and parent support needs. Second, home visiting programs engage parents prenatally to build positive relationships, grow social support, and lay the groundwork for strong parent-child attachments. Third, area group and individual support programs for pregnant young mothers provide peer support, strengthen mothers’ support, reduce the risk of violence, and meet concrete needs.


While these efforts are positive, many opportunities exist to strengthen prenatal engagement to reduce childhood trauma. As outlined in the report, they include, at a minimum:

  • Increasing public/private support for prenatal engagement
  • Ensuring continued support for home visiting programs
  • Expanding childbirth education instruction and support
  • Improving and enhancing MCO case management
  • Advocating for prenatal engagement in Families First implementation
  • Securing Medicaid funding for doulas
  • Supporting lactation services

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