I recently learned about an interesting study which investigated the link between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.
The study examined eight adverse life experiences:
1. emotional abuse
2. physical abuse
3. sexual abuse
4. battered mother
5. parental separation/or divorce
6. substance abusing mother
7. mentally ill mother
incarcerated household member
The study was a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention & Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.
Over 17,000 members chose to participate in the study, and over 30 scientific studies have been done using the information. Click Here to see the questionnaire.
I was surprised to read that 1/3 of participants reported no ACEs! Since I work with trauma patients I get a tainted lens of the population. I need to remember that some people had fairly normal childhoods.
Almost 2/3 of participants reported at least one ACE, and more than one in five reported three or more ACEs.
Childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to other traumatic stressors, termed adverse childhood experiences (ACE) are associated with increases (in a strong and graded fashion) of:
Alcohol and alcohol abuse
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Health related quality of life
Illicit drug use
Ischemic heart disease (IHD)
Risk for intimate partner violence
Multiple sexual partners and therefore more sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
In other words, if you had a lot of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) you are much more likely to have adverse behaviors and health risks.
I would encourage you not to let this study scare you. If you had a traumatic childhood there are plenty of things you can do to create a healthy life. Three of the best ones are creating joy in your life, practicing spirituality, and exercise.