The toll of multiple traumatic events in childhood

A new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) finds that children who deal with multiple traumatic events might suffer the consequences later in life. Children who experienced at least six adverse events during their childhood died approximately twenty years earlier than children who had not dealt with multiple stressful events.

The children with the most adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) died on average at age 60, while children who did not experience a high number of ACEs lived to about 79.

According to Science Daily, the study consists of data from 17,337 adults between 1995 and 1997. Each participant completed a standardized medical survey that included questions about adverse experiences in childhood, such as whether they had been verbally or physically abused, lived in a household with substance abuse, or have divorced parents.

At the end of 2006, the researchers used the National Death Index to discover who had passed away. Dr. Robert Anda, co-primary investigator of the study, tells ABC News:

“The stressors tend to accumulate in people’s lives, and it appears that affects the way they develop and can affect the way they think and their emotional control.”

Dr. Anda goes onto explain that children who experience trauma are more likely to smoke, drink, use drugs, and be overweight – all risk factors that lead to health issues.

The researchers point out that causation cannot be determined from this one study; however, the association they found between ACEs and shorter life span deserves further investigation.

The study will be published in the November issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

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