Adverse childhood experiences increase illness, substance abuse
By Malinda Williams
This column often emphasizes the prevention of childhood trauma, including physical and sexual abuse and witnessing domestic violence. Ongoing research by the U.S. Center for Disease Control and others show a direct connection between childhood trauma and adult onset of chronic disease, social problems and even early death.
Starting in 1995, the CDC began the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACE Study), which surveyed childhood trauma experiences of over 17,000 adults in Southern California. Researchers surveyed participants to determine how many of the following 10 adverse childhood experiences they faced before their 18th birthdays:
– physical abuse;
– sexual abuse;
– emotional abuse;
– physical neglect;
– emotional neglect;
– mother treated violently;
– household substance abuse;
– household mental illness;
– parental separation or divorce; or
– incarcerated household member.