The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently released an analysis that provides comprehensive estimates of the potential to improve Americans’ health by preventing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs).

Read the CDC’s Vital Signs report.

ACEs are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood. ACEs can include violence, abuse, and growing up in a family with mental health or substance use problems. Toxic stress from ACEs can change brain development and affect how the body responds to stress. ACEs are linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance misuse in adulthood.

However, ACEs can be prevented, as the CDC news release detailed.

Preventing ACEs can help children and adults thrive and potentially:

  • Lower risk for conditions like depression, asthma, cancer, and diabetes in adulthood.
  • Reduce risky behaviors like smoking and heavy drinking.
  • Improve education and employment potential.
  • Stop ACEs from being passed from one generation to the next.

These findings appear in CDC’s latest Vital Signs report, which examines the associations between ACEs and 14 negative outcomes. CDC analyzed data from 25 states that included ACE questions in the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) from 2015 through 2017. State survey data were used to estimate long-term health and social outcomes in adults that contribute to leading causes of illness and death and reduced access to life opportunities.

“We now know that adverse childhood experiences have a significant impact on an individual’s future health,” said CDC Director Robert R. Redfield, M.D. “Preventing traumatic experiences in childhood and initiating key interventions when they do occur will lessen long-term health consequences and benefit the physical and emotional well-being of individuals into adulthood.”

Children’s Trust leads the South Carolina ACE Initiative, which helps children and families overcome the effects of traumatic experiences, prevent poor health outcomes, and promote well-being later in life. We have are training professionals across the state to increase awareness of ACEs, collecting and disseminating data, building a prevention planning framework, and promoting sound legislative policy to address ACEs in our communities.