Adverse Childhood Exposures (ACEs)

Information retrieved from American Society for the Positive Care of Children (SPCC). (2017). Child Abuse Statistics in the U.S. Retrieved on December 21, 2017 from

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are potentially traumatic events that can have negative, lasting effects on health and well-being. These experiences occur in a child’s life before the age of 18 and are remembered by that child as an adult. Such traumatic event may include: psychological (emotional), physical, or sexual abuse; violence against mother; or living with household members who were substance abusers, mentally ill or suicidal, or criminal or imprisoned household members.

maltreatment (child abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, bullying, etc.) causes stress that can disrupt early brain development, and serious, chronic stress can harm the development of the nervous and immune systems.

Long Lasting Effects of ACEs

Children who are abused or neglected are at higher risk for health problems as adults. These problems include alcoholism, depression, drug abuse, eating disorders, obesity, high-risk sexual behaviors, smoking, suicide, and certain chronic diseases. ACEs have a strong and cumulative impact on the health and functioning of adults. The toxic levels of stress or trauma related to Adverse Childhood Experiences is linked to poor physical and mental health, chronic disease, lower educational achievement, lower economic success, and impaired social success in adulthood.

Adverse childhood experiences have been linked to:

  • risky health behaviors
  • chronic health conditions
  • low life potential
  • early death

ACEs-Health Issues & Risky Behavior

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are common. Almost two-thirds of participants in a ACE’s study reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACE’s. As the number of ACE’s increases so does the number of risk factors, as of the following:

  • Alcoholism and alcohol abuse
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Depression
  • Fetal death
  • Health-related quality of life
  • Illicit drug use
  • Ischemic heart disease
  • Liver disease
  • Poor work performance
  • Financial stress
  • Risk for intimate partner violence
  • Multiple sexual partners
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Smoking
  • Suicide attempts
  • Unintended pregnancies
  • Early initiation of smoking
  • Early initiation of sexual activity
  • Adolescent pregnancy
  • Risk for sexual violence
  • Poor academic achievement

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