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Exposure to ACEs, including abuse, neglect, domestic violence and parental mental illness and substance abuse, not only affects brain development, it can change children’s hormonal systems, immune systems and even their DNA. This can cause behavioral problems, learning difficulties, and physical health issues.
The more ACEs a child is exposed to, the higher the risk of developing chronic illnesses. In children, exposure to ACEs can increase likelihood of chronic diseases such as asthma. In adults, exposure to ACEs dramatically increases the likelihood of 7 out of 10 leading adult causes of death including heart disease and cancer.2
Screening for ACEs in children as early as possible and providing children and their families with the support services they need is a critical step to prevent and undo the existing and future harm to children’s brains and bodies caused by toxic stress.
1. Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative (2013). “Overview of Adverse Child and Family Experiences among US Children.” Data Resource Center, supported by Cooperative Agreement 1‐U59‐MC06980‐01 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB). Available at www.childhealthdata.org
2. CDC 2015, Felitti 1998
We believe routine screening for ACEs at pediatric well-child visits should be as common as checking for hearing loss or exposure to lead paint. With early detection, we can help identify and treat children at risk of a lifetime of health issues.learn more
We are working to change the way pediatric clinics respond to ACEs and prevent and build resistance to toxic stress in children. We use a community-based integrated health model to help us identify, implement and evaluate treatment strategies, provide patients and families with supportive services, and share what we learn with providers across the country.learn more
We are pushing the science forward to drive clinical innovation and better outcomes in pediatric health care. We contribute to clinical research, develop and disseminate scientific information, and make the science of ACEs and toxic stress accessible to expand knowledge and practice in the field.learn more
We are advancing a national movement and action towards universal ACEs screening. We work to build broader awareness among parents about the connection between ACEs and children’s physical and behavioral health, build a national network of pediatric clinicians to adopt ACEs and toxic stress innovations into their medical practices, and advance an ACEs policy agenda to change local and national systems.learn more
Center for Youth Wellness is not a crisis center. Those experiencing urgent medical or psychiatric concerns should dial 911 or their local emergency agency for assistance. We are unable to respond to messages requesting referrals, treatment or clinical consultations from individuals who are not our patients.