Adverse Childhood Experiences, known as ACEs, are traumatic or stressful incidents that can lead to serious consequences with child development and the child’s overall health and well-being into adulthood.
In addition to physical, sexual or emotional abuse, ACEs can include physical and emotional neglect, or growing up in a dysfunctional home with domestic violence, substance abuse, mental illness, parental separation or an incarcerated family member.
Published in 1998, the ACE Study provided groundbreaking understanding about the link between childhood trauma and adult health. The Study, which is still ongoing, is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta and the Kaiser Permanente health system in San Diego.
The research showed that those with an ACE score of four were twice as likely to become smokers and seven times more likely to develop alcoholism. An ACE score of six or higher results in a 30-fold increase in attempted suicide. Those with ACEs were also more likely to experience adolescent pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and intimate partner violence.