Adverse Childhood Experiences

The landmark ACEs study confirmed that Adverse Childhood Experiences before the age of 18 not only impact healthy brain development in children but also increase the likelihood of negative health and behavioral outcomes in adulthood. Adverse Childhood Experiences include childhood abuse and household dysfunction such as divorce and domestic violence. As the number of “ACEs ” increase so does the risk of many lifelong health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuse and depression.   Adverse Childhood Experiences have been linked to some of today’s most costly medical, psychiatric and social issues.

In the Iowa ACEs Study, one in five Iowa adults reported three or more ACEs. Fifteen percent of Iowans reported four or more ACEs — an ACE score that has been shown in many studies to be tied to a wide range of poor health outcomes. Here in Warren County, more than 40 percent of people reported two or more ACEs.

The most effective prevention of ACEs is to reduce young children’s exposure to extremely stressful conditions, such as recurrent abuse, chronic neglect, caregiver mental illness/substance abuse/violence or repeated conflict.

Research shows that providing stable, responsive, nurturing relationships as early in life as possible can prevent or even reverse the damaging effects of childhood adversity, with lifelong benefits for learning, behavior and health. All the environments in which children live and learn, and the quality of their relationships with adults and caregivers have a significant impact on cognitive, emotional and social development.

For more information about the ACEs Study, visit IowaACEs360.org.