Unseen scars of childhood trauma

Image by Leroy Skalstad from Pixabay

Twenty years of research have established the connection between adverse childhood experiences and long-term health. Now researchers are looking for ways to measure the biology behind the correlation and try to reverse it.

By Amanda B. Keener 01.25.2021

Before you were 18, did a parent or other adult in your household ever push, grab, shove or slap you?

Was a household member depressed or mentally ill?

Did a household member go to prison?

But the biggest surprise from the study was that adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, didn’t just lead to emotional and psychological ill effects, such as depression, later in life: People who had more traumatic experiences were also more likely as adults to have heart disease, cancer and a host of other health problems. And though people with higher ACE scores are more likely to smoke and suffer from alcoholism and drug abuse, behavioral factors don’t fully account for these increased disease risks.

Follow-up studies over the last 20 years have confirmed these findings and found links to other conditions, including type 2 diabetes and autoimmune disorders. Recent work has shown that ACEs can start to affect health even in childhood, increasing risks for asthma, cognitive delays, hormone imbalances, sleep disturbances, obesity and frequent infections.

Such work reveals that childhood adversity is a major public health issue. “Once you start understanding the prevalence of adversity in the general population, you can’t unsee it,” says Phil Fisher, a psychologist at the University of Oregon.

Direct link to the rest of the article

About S. R. Zelenz 119 Articles
S.R. Zelenz has worked in education for 20 years. Working with students from all walks of life, cultures, races, and social diversity, Zelenz’s research in Educational Leadership led to finding a better way to approach learning for students with trauma histories. Many were juvenile offenders, gang members, diagnosed with varying behavioral disorders, or had family histories of violence, murder, or narcissistic parenting. This research could not be effectively accomplished without further understanding: how epigenetic trauma inheritance may be impacting these students; how brain development from trauma may be impacting their behavioral and emotional development; as well as deep understanding of psychology and its varying classifications for behavioral and personality disorders. The goal is to find solutions for changing the conversation and making a real difference for these students. She has also worked with nonprofits of varying focus areas for the last 25 years. Her undergraduate degree in Arts Administration and Music prepared her for managing nonprofits of any size as well as procuring funding so that they can achieve their goals. Pairing her nonprofit background with her education background, she has been able to make a difference for over 200 nonprofits worldwide, written curriculum for schools across the globe, and assisted many arts organizations through performance and management.