New Report Links Adverse Childhood Experience to Leading Causes of Death

The Centers for Disease Control released a new report in its Vital Signs publication linking Adverse Childhood Experiences to leading causes of death.

Earlier this week a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) linked Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) to several leading causes of death in the country, including heart disease, cancer, respiratory disease, diabetes and suicide.

“We now know that adverse childhood experiences have a significant impact on an individual’s future health,” said CDC Director Dr. Robert R. Redfield, in the newly released report. “Preventing traumatic experiences in childhood and initiating key interventions when they do occur will lessen long-term health consequences and benefit the physical and emotional well-being of individuals into adulthood.”

The CDC and Kaiser Permanente conducted the original ACEs study in the 1990s and published its findings in 1998. The landmark research established that people who had experienced four or more ACEs were at increased health risk for alcoholism, drug abuse, depression and suicide attempts. The study also showed a link between ACEs and poor health in adulthood.

The Vital Signs report highlighted the impact that preventing ACEs could have on reducing these deadly diseases, as well as decreasing depression and substance misuse. Based on data collected from 25 states that included ACE questions in the Behavior Risk Factor Surveillance System from 2015 to 2017 of more than 144,000 adults, the results found that preventing ACEs could even have a positive impact on education and employment levels for individuals.

SOURCE: BRFSS 2015-2017, 25 states, CDC Vital Signs, November 2019.

The release of the report comes on the heels of an announcement from Kaiser Permanente, the initial ACEs research organization, that it is investing $2.75 million in doing advanced research on mitigating the effects of ACEs.

California is taking a leading role in inserting ACEs-based practices, including launching a statewide screening for child trauma. Next year the state will reimburse Medicaid providers for trauma screenings for adults and children and will also train primary care providers administering screenings.

The state’s new surgeon general, Nadine Burke Harris has been a leading champion of the original ACEs study and how to prevent childhood trauma.

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Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change
About Kim Phagan-Hansel, Managing Editor, The Chronicle of Social Change 116 Articles
Kim is Managing Editor for The Chronicle of Social Change and Editor of Fostering Families Today magazine. Reach her at