Trauma Informed Health

It’s a fairly well accepted notion that childhood traumatic experiences can affect a person’s psychology and mental health. The ACE test, or Adverse Childhood Experience test takes that notion a step further, and has found a strong correlation between high ACE scores (more childhood trauma) and physical health conditions during adult life (from COPD to Cancer).

What is the ACE Test?

child with trauma

A test the patient can fill out that scores childhood experiences that would be considered traumatic. The traumatic experiences considered in the test cover mental/physical abuse, neglect, and other home life traumatic experiences.

Two out of three adults score at least a one on the test. You can figure out your own ACE test score here.

The higher a person’s ACE score the more health issues they are likely to experience in adulthood. This correlation is in addition to the priming effect it has on mental illness, addictive tendencies, likelihood to make bad decisions, and personality issues.

When compared to a person with 0 aces, a person who has 4 aces runs the risk of the following:

  • 7 times more likely to become an alcoholic.
  • “12 times more likely to attempt suicide.”
  • Twice as likely to develop heart disease.
  • Twice as likely to develop cancer.

What is the science behind it?

The fight or flight response stops the thinking brain (the analytical side that can take too long to take action in dangerous situations). The response also interrupts other immune responses with high levels of toxic stress (fight or flight) hormones.

This immune response is adaptive, meant to save us from dangerous situations. This response only becomes a problem when a child experiences it every time they cross the threshold into their home.

The studies from ACEstoohigh, Harvard, CDC, and 33 States (including DC) have recognized that the repetitive chemical response in a growing child affects developing immune systems, hormonal systems, and even the way our DNA is transcribed. This disruption in childhood has long lasting repercussions that play out in their health status as adults.

Why haven’t I heard more about this?!

ACEs studies began in 1996, so we have had knowledge of the adverse health effects of childhood trauma going on two decades. Unfortunately, the initial studies comprised of mostly Caucasian and college educated test subjects. This reduced the level of the ACE tests and hindered the urgency that should have been used to disperse the information found.

It’s also very likely, because of how wide spread the issue is… and delicate the material is, we would rather not talk about it. We would rather be sick than address early life traumas.

An example of this incidence was just released in a Huffington Post article ; one of their writers talks about how the death of her father in her early years created trauma that led to health problems she experienced in her young 40’s.

What to do with this information?

Dr. Robert Block former president of the American academy of pediatrics stated, “Adverse Childhood Experiences are the single greatest unaddressed public health threat facing our nation today.”

Doctors should be aware of the ace score, because the higher the ace the more high-risk the patient. Ace score should be taken into account in all patients’ health needs, not just psychological. Additionally, there has been a new wave of centers equipped to help young childhood trauma victims and prevent future occurrences.


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Author: Locum Jobs Online

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