The ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) Study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente and is one of the largest scientific studies ever conducted researching the link between 9 categories of childhood abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction (See What’s an ACE? and negative physical, behavioral and mental health consequences later. Over 17,000 individuals undergoing a standard physical exam participated in the study authored by Dr. Vincent Felitti and Dr. Robert Anda. The findings suggest that these experiences – ACEs – are the leading causes of illness, death and poor quality of life in the United States.
Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors termed as adverse childhood experiences are common. The short and long-term outcomes of these childhood exposures include a multitude of health and social problems that greatly increased as the number of ACEs increases such as:
- Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
- Heart disease
- Fifty or more sexual intercourse partners
- Other substance abuse including IV drug use
- Depression and attempted suicide
- Teen pregnancy (including paternity)
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Poor occupational health and poor job performance.
Recent studies also show that childhood maltreatment can result in impairments to the brain and physiological development.