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Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences Can Reduce Chronic Illness, CDC Says: Photos

Childhood trauma can lead to long-term health problems. More needs to be done to prevent this, says the CDC.

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Childhood trauma can lead to long-term health problems. More needs to be done to prevent this, says the CDC.

mrs / Getty Images

Childhood trauma causes serious effects on lifelong health and is a public health problem that requires concerted prevention efforts. This is the extraction of a report published Tuesday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experiencing traumatic things as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health, according to a study. A new report from the CDC confirms this, finding that Americans who have experienced adverse childhood experiences or ACE are at higher risk of dying than five of the top 10 leading causes of death.

And those who have experienced more bad experiences – such as abuse or neglect, witnessing violence at home or growing up in a family with mental health problems or drug abuse – are at even greater risk.

One in six people in the United States has experienced four or more types of harmful childhood experiences, according to the report.

That is why it is important to prevent APEs and reduce their impact on people, CDC chief deputy director Dr. Anne Schuhat said during a teleconference on Tuesday. "Preventing ACE can help children and adults thrive and has the potential to significantly reduce the risk of conditions such as asthma, cancer, depressive disorder and diabetes," she said.

The new report presents the CDC's first estimate of how many Americans are affected by ACE, as well as the potential benefits of preventing these types of injuries.

Using survey data from more than 144,000 adults from 25 countries, the report found that about 60% of Americans experience at least one adverse childhood experience. And 15.6% had four or more different types. Women, Native Americans and Alaskan Indians and African Americans are at a higher risk of experiencing four or more childhood traumas.

The effects are summed up. "The more types of ACEs a person has, the higher the risk of negative results, which will limit their ability throughout their lives," says Suchat.

But these health outcomes are preventable, according to the report. Prevention of childhood trauma could potentially prevent 1.9 million cases of coronary heart disease, the leading killer in this country. In the same way, it could prevent 2.5 million cases of obesity or overweight and 21 million cases of depression.

Childhood trauma can also affect a person's social well-being, Schuhat added. "ACE also has a negative impact on life opportunities, such as graduating from high school or future employment," she said. "Preventing ACE could prevent 1.5 million students from dropping out of school."

Studies show that there are ways to prevent childhood trauma and mitigate its effects when this happens. And the CDC has previously drawn up a list of approaches that have proven effective.

The Agency outlines the need for efforts at each level: state, community, family and individual.

Schuchat notes that positive childhood experiences and relationships are known to counteract the stress of trauma and enhance resilience. "He can be a parent, he can be a teacher, he can be a neighbor, but having a stable, trustworthy person in your life can help you at this individual level with endurance," said Shuchat. "This stability and nourishment will help you when you have stress or a difficult problem [because you] have a way out and a reliable way to process it and seek help if you need to."

Mentoring programs that connect children with caring adults in school or in have been shown to help children through life's difficulties.

In fact, supportive, supportive relationships and environments for both children and families are at the heart of prevention, according to a report that outlines six approaches to prevention. These approaches include enhancing economic support for families, helping parents and young people better deal with stress, as well as improved access to primary care for screening, identifying and dealing with childhood trauma when it occurs.

Doctors play an important role in mitigating the effects of childhood trauma, Schuhat notes. "Clinicians are busy and may or may not incorporate ACE into their practice, but we believe it is very important that they do."

For example, pediatricians can check parents and children for childhood trauma and practice informed care. trauma so that they can cope with the potential health effects of the trauma.

"There are various programs that can be used in primary care rooms or [by] pediatricians," says James Mercy, director of the CDC's Violence Prevention Unit and author of the new report. "This provides ways in which these services can organize their efforts to identify and intervene in child abuse and other disasters."

For example, the Safe Environment for Every Child (SEEK) model has been shown to be effective in providing clinicians with tools to reduce child abuse, he said.

Everyone has a role to play in prevention, Shuka said. "Parents, families, neighborhoods, schools, spiritual communities, business and government" can help.

If you are interested in how your own childhood experiences can affect your health, researchers have developed a series of questions to determine risk levels.

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