CDC Says Adverse Childhood Experiences Such as Divorce, Racism, Abuse Linked to Five Leading Causes of Death

Adverse Childhood Experiences such as divorce, racism, witnessing violence, substance abuse or having a parent in jail have now been linked to at least five of the 10 leading causes of death in America, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Preventing them, the report says, could help lead to healthier and longer lives while saving hundreds of billions of dollars annually in healthcare.

Adverse Childhood Experiences, as noted in a report on the CDC’s findings, Identifying and Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiencespublished in the Journal of the American Medical Association, are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood and adolescence, such as experiencing physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; witnessing violence in the home; having a family member attempt or die by suicide; and growing up in a household with substance use, mental health problems, or instability due to parental separation, divorce, or incarceration.

The analysis, also reflected in the agency’s most recent Vital Signs report, suggests exposure to ACEs can result in extreme or repetitive toxic stress responses that can cause both immediate and long-term physical and emotional harms such chronic diseases, risky health behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges later in life.

“ACEs are associated with increased risk for numerous negative outcomes, including a wide range of chronic diseases and leading causes of morbidity and mortality, such as cancer, diabetes, heart disease, suicide, and drug overdose. Risk is particularly pronounced for individuals who experience multiple types of ACEs,” the CDC researchers note.

“ACEs are also associated with negative effects on educational achievement and employment potential. Importantly, the historical and ongoing effects of racism or poverty, living in under-resourced or racially segregated neighborhoods, and experiencing housing or food insecurity (social determinants of health) can contribute to and exacerbate the effects of ACEs,” they add. “The potential societal costs of ACEs are estimated to be in the hundreds of billions of dollars each year, with a significant proportion of these costs occurring in the health care system.”

The analysis examined the associations between ACEs and 14 negative outcomes using data from 25 states that included ACE questions in the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2015 through 2017. State survey data were also 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.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Leonardo Blair