Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) linked to leading causes of death

Relationship of Childhood Abuse and Household Dysfunction to Many of the Leading Causes of Death in Adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study used 9058 questionnaire responses, to look at the experiences of young people and how adverse experiences are linked to many of the leading causes of death in later life.

The study looked at psychological, physical, and contact sexual abuse, exposure to drug abuse, mental illness, violence, and crime, and used a scale to rate how many an individual had been exposed to, as well as a health survey which explored many of the leading causes of adult mortality in the US. 52% of respondents reported one or more adverse childhood experience, and further analysis showed a relationship between the number of categories ACEs relates to the number of problems faced in later life and the likelihood of risk factors of leading causes of death. Health-harming behaviours such as smoking and drinking are linked often due to their use as coping mechanisms, and as mood regulators to manage mental health problems.

Due to the prevalence of these experiences and the harmful implications they have, it is necessary for intervention strategies to be put in place early on to minimise harm and decrease the likelihood of smoking, obesity, inactivity, depression, and suicide. These need to include the encouragement of healthy behaviours and provision of healthy coping strategies. Prevention of these issues requires policies to intervene in the home life, but promotion of healthy lifestyles can occur elsewhere through processes which identify those in need or at risk and provide informed intervention strategies.

“The ACE Study provides a valuable insight into the causes of many adult illnesses that lead to poorer quality of life and and shorter life expectancy. Awareness of ACEs is a good starting point but the focus now needs to shift to preventative interventions and ways to support children’s recovery”

– John Bishop, Evolve Managing Director

To read the full report, click here.

To read more about The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, click here.