Guided by a growing body of multidisciplinary research, policymakers are increasingly recognizing the role that adverse childhood experiences play in health and well-being, and are beginning to champion a burgeoning number of trauma-informed policy approaches across the nation.
An adverse childhood experience (ACE) refers to a “traumatic experience in a person’s life occurring before the age of 18 that the person remembers as an adult.” Examples of ACEs may include (but are not limited to): physical, emotional, or sexual abuse; domestic violence toward a parent; mental illness of a household member; substance abuse of a household member; incarceration of a household member; divorce or separation of a parent; and lack of basic necessities. The latest 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health revealed that over 46 percent of children in the United States have experienced at least one ACE.
The landmark 1998 Adverse Childhood Experiences Study established the correlation between the accumulation of adversity during childhood and poor health outcomes. Advances in neurobiology since then have helped to explain the connection: Exposure to extreme or prolonged patterns of stress during childhood can cause a variety of changes in brain structure and function, leading to enduring neurobehavioral consequences. If unrecognized and untreated, ACEs may negatively affect health and well-being throughout the life span and can be a powerful determinant of health outcomes.
[For more on this story by Brittney Crock Bauerly, go to https://www.networkforphl.org/...d_policy_approaches/]