Ace Study: Childhood Trauma Links to Social Ills

How a Traumatic Childhood Can Lead to Obesity, Health Problems and Early Death …

Childhood trauma not only affects adult mental health, but can severely impact adult physical health — even mortality.

Alternet, October 3, 2010While it’s common knowledge that childhood trauma can have far-reaching and sometimes dire consequences for adult mental health, it’s less obvious that abuse, neglect, parental alcoholism, severely dysfunctional family patterns, and other stresses in childhood can severely affect adult physical health, and even mortality. However, a path-breaking epidemiological survey called the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, initiated jointly by the Kaiser Permanente HMO in California and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 1995–1997 and still continuing, demonstrates an astonishing correlation between childhood maltreatment and later-life medical illnesses and premature death.

The ACE study was based on detailed interviews with more than 17,000 Kaiser Permanente members about their childhood experiences of neglect, abuse, and family dysfunction. As the health profiles of these participants have been tracked through the years, about 70 scientific articles have been published linking childhood adversity to a host of mental and medical conditions, including among the latter autoimmune, heart, lung, and liver diseases, cancer, hepatitis or jaundice, diabetes, bone fractures, and sexually transmitted diseases.

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