Childhood trauma causes serious health issues throughout life and is a public health problem that demands concerted prevention efforts. That is the focus of a report published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Experiencing traumatic experiences as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health effects, according to a body of research. The CDC’s new report confirms this, acknowledging that Americans who experienced adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, were at higher risk of dying from five of the top 10 leading causes of death.
Those who have been through experiences such as abuse or neglect, witnessing violence at home or growing up in a family with mental health or substance abuse problems, were at an even higher risk.
One in six people across the United States has experienced four or more kinds of adverse childhood experiences, according to the report.
The report maintains that it is important to prevent ACEs and lessen their impact on individuals, according to the CDC’s principal deputy director, Dr. Anne Schuchat.
“Preventing ACEs can help children and adults thrive and have the potential to substantially lower the risk for conditions like asthma, cancer, depressive disorder, and diabetes,” she said.
The new report presents the CDC’s first estimate of how many Americans are affected by ACEs, as well as the potential benefits of preventing these kinds of traumas.
Using data from a survey of more than 144,000 adults from 25 states, the report found that about 60% of Americans experience at least one adverse experience during childhood. And 15.6% experienced four or more different types. Women, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and African-Americans have a higher risk of experiencing four or more types of childhood traumas.
The effects add up. “The more types of ACEs a person has, the higher their risk for negative outcomes, which will limit their opportunities their whole life,” said Schuchat.
Preventing childhood trauma could potentially prevent 1.9 million cases of coronary heart disease, the leading killer in this country. Similarly, it could prevent 2.5 million cases of obesity or overweight and 21 million cases of depression.