The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study (done by Dr. Vince Felitti at Kaiser and Dr. Bob Anda at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) found childhood trauma has lasting and measurable consequences in adult life. These experiences were found to not only affect the way children learn but also how they acclimate to society as an adult.
As part of the study, researchers asked 17,500 adults about their history of exposure to ACEs. Adverse experiences include physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; physical or emotional neglect; parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration; parental separation or divorce; or domestic violence. For every yes, the participant would get a point on their ACE score. Those scores were then compared to the health outcomes of the participants. What they found was striking: (1) ACEs are incredibly common, 67% of the population had at least one ACE, and 12.6% — one in eight — had four or more ACEs; (2) the higher the ACE score, the worse the health outcomes. A person with an ACE score of four or more had a relative risk of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease or Hepatitis that was two-and-a-half times that of someone with an ACE score of zero. For depression, the risk was four-and-a-half times, and the risk of suicide was 12 times that of a person with a zero score. A person with an ACE score of seven or more had triple the lifetime risk of lung cancer and three-and-a-half times the risk of Ischemic Heart Disease, the number one killer in the United States of America. Every child should be screened for ACEs, especially those with a history of frequent absences and/or disciplinary actions.