By Erin Allday, San Francisco Chronicle, January 5, 2020
A screening tool developed by Bay Area pediatricians to identify adverse childhood experiences, ranging from homelessness and food insecurity to physical and sexual abuse, will now help doctors statewide address trauma affecting patients’ health.
The California Department of Health Care Services approved the tool — called PEARLS, for Pediatric ACEs and Related Life-Events Screener — last month. As of Jan. 1, its use is covered by Medi-Cal, and it will be available to pediatricians at 8,800 California clinics.
Researchers and public health advocates have known for more than 20 years that traumatic childhood experiences are associated with greater risk of certain diseases such as asthma, diabetes and depression. But only in the past decade or so have doctors begun to understand just how closely connected trauma is to long-term health outcomes, and what they can do to protect their patients.