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Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, include experiences of abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. ACEs put people at risk for a number of negative health outcomes across their lives. In particular, ACEs can have lasting consequences for mothers and their infants. Studies from our lab have found associations between ACEs and poor maternal-child health outcomes such as gestational diabetes, mental health difficulties, and premature birth. These health and mental health difficulties put mothers and children at risk of current and future health difficulties, making ACEs one of the leading health risks of our time. Currently, in Calgary and Alberta, primary care settings have begun to screen for ACEs. Despite this screening, there is a lack of evidence as to whether screening for maternal ACEs adds to the identification of health risk in pregnancy and the postpartum above and beyond current mental health screening tools. Furthermore, it is unknown whether screening for and educating patients about ACEs has an impact on maternal and child health outcomes.

Doctor Examining a Pregnant Woman

In collaboration with Riley Park Maternity Clinic in Calgary, AB, and the All Our Families (AOF) project, this project evaluates:

  1. Whether the ACEs questionnaire provides additional predictive value in identifying birth complications and postpartum mental health relative to standard mental health screening tools currently used.

2. Whether screening for ACEs (vs. care as usual) affects clinical outcomes such as birth complications, postpartum mental health, and infant health outcomes. 

This project will provide unique insight into the clinical utility of the ACEs screening questionnaire on maternal-child health and mental health outcomes.

 Community Partners & Collaborators


Riley Park Maternity Clinic

The Riley Park Maternity Clinic within the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network (PCN) offers care to low-risk patients during their pregnancy. The clinic has 40 prenatal physicians and sees 1700 new patients yearly. In 2017, the clinic added the ACEs questionnaire into their clinical practice.


Visit the Calgary Foothills Primary Care Network website for the Riley Park Maternity clinic here.


Led by Dr. Suzanne Tough, the All our Families (AOF) study is a longitudinal pregnancy cohort that allows researchers to investigate child, parent, and family outcomes over time in an urban setting. The AOF cohort began in Calgary, Alberta in 2008 with the recruitment of 3,200 Alberta mother-baby pairs and the AOF team has continued to follow and collect information from these families ever since. Early this year, AOF wrapped up data collection for the 8 year participant follow-up survey.

Visit the AoF website here.


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