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The Impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences

From 1995 to 1997, the CDC conducted the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study investigating the connection between childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being.

Over 17,000 Health Maintenance Organization members from Southern California receiving physical exams completed confidential surveys regarding their childhood experiences and current health status and behaviors.

There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study.

Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.

Five are related to other family members: a parent who’s an alcoholic, a mother who’s a victim of domestic violence, a family member in jail, a family member diagnosed with a mental illness, and the disappearance of a parent through divorce, death or abandonment.

Each type of trauma counts as one. So a person who’s been physically abused, with one alcoholic parent, and a mother who was beaten up has an ACE score of three.

Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to
• risky health behaviors,
• chronic health conditions,
• low life potential, and
• early death.

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.

With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious. The likelihood of chronic pulmonary lung disease increases 390 percent; hepatitis, 240 percent; depression 460 percent; attempted suicide, 1,220 percent.

ACEs are common…nearly two-thirds (64%) of adults have at least one. And the majority of respondents who reported at least one ACE reported more than one.

For the small minority (12%) of people with a score of 4+ the consequences are dire and get worse as that number increases.

What can we do?

For more information:

The complete infographic can be found here at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Adverse Childhood Experiences collection.

Published in Blog