The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has published a new advisory stating that the United States can improve overall public health by reducing the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), which include everything from having a parent in prison to witnessing traumatic events and being abused. These experiences have been linked to increased risk of health issues, including chronic illnesses.
This is the first time the CDC has published an analysis on how preventing ACEs can improve public health, according to the agency. The repetitive or extreme ‘toxic stress responses’ that can result from ACEs put kids at risk of immediate and, later on down the road, chronic mental and physical health issues.
In fact, experts state that a minimum of five of the top 10 causes of death have been linked to abusive and traumatic childhood experiences. In addition to potentially triggering chronic health problems, the CDC founds that ACEs increase the risk of developing substance abuse issues, may result in lowered educational achievements, and pave the way for lowered career potential.
Taking steps to prevent ACEs may boost educational and employment levels among the public while simultaneously cutting the risk of death from things like cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and suicide. The findings were based on an analysis of more than 144,000 adults.
By crunching the numbers, the CDC estimates that preventing ACEs could slash up to 1.9 million cases of heart disease, 2.5 million cases of obesity, and up to 21 million cases of depression. Tackling these childhood problems will require substantial effort, however, examples of which include increasing access to various programs for kids and adults, shaping a work culture that supports family-friendly lifestyles, and addressing social and economic issues that increase the risk of ACEs.