New CDC Data Underscores Need to Address Adverse Childhood Experiences

New prevention strategies are needed based on our increasing understanding of the impacts of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).


A new report published by the US Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention analyzed data from twenty-five states exploring the connection between adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the leading causes of adult morbidity and mortality. Results of the extensive study show that ACEs affect 1 in 6 adults and are linked to poorer health and higher socioeconomic challenges. The researchers suggest six prevention strategies for addressing ACEs and reducing both physical and mental health issues.

“Adverse childhood experiences are common and have important implications for health and well-being. Whereas everyone is at risk for adverse childhood experiences, numerous studies have documented inequities in such experiences attributed to the historical, social, and economic environments in which some families live,” the CDC researchers, led by Melissa Merrick, write.


Groundbreaking research on ACEs has convincingly linked experiences such as childhood abuse and trauma with negative long-term physical and psychological outcomes in adulthood. Following the initial studies on ACEs, substantial research has confirmed the link between early adverse experiences and significant mental distress and physical illness in adulthood. It is theorized that ACEs compromise the healthy development of coping skills, which leads to decreased life opportunities, educational attainment, employment, and income.

“At least five of the 10 leading causes of death have been associated with exposure to adverse childhood experiences, including several contributors to declines in life expectancy,” the researchers write.

It is widely accepted that preventing ACEs from occurring in the first place is critical for addressing multiple long-term impacts on individuals and communities. Some prevention programs, such as preschool enrichment and early childhood home visitation programs, have shown successes, demonstrating 48%–52% reductions in rates of child abuse and neglect.

To better understand the full extent of ACEs’ impact in the US and inform preventative recommendations, the current study examined data from 25 U.S. states on a total of 144,017 individuals. The researchers assessed associations between exposure to adverse childhood experiences and outcomes such as coronary heart disease, stroke, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), cancer (excluding skin cancer), kidney disease, diabetes, and depression.

In the populations sampled, close to 61% of individuals had experienced at least one type of ACE in their life, and close to 16% of individuals had experienced four or more types of ACEs.

Notably, women and individuals from racial and ethnic minority groups were more likely to experience four or more types of ACEs than others. Additionally, individuals with the highest levels of ACEs had higher odds of having chronic health conditions, being overweight or obese, depression, smoking, and socioeconomic challenges such as unemployment. These findings confirm previous research linking poor long-term health outcomes to higher numbers of ACEs.

“The findings from this study can help multiple sectors, including clinicians, researchers, policymakers, and the public, appreciate the connections between cumulative exposure to adversity and mental, physical, and socioeconomic outcomes.”

The researchers recommend the following prevention strategies based on their findings:

  1. Strengthening economic supports for families (e.g., earned income tax credits, family-friendly work policies).
  2. Promoting social norms that protect against violence and adversity (e.g., public education campaigns to support parents and positive parenting, bystander approaches to support healthy relationship behaviors).
  3. Ensuring a strong start for children (e.g., early childhood home visitation, high-quality childcare, preschool enrichment programs).
  4. Enhancing skills to help parents and youths handle stress, manage emotions, and tackle everyday challenges (e.g., social-emotional learning programs, safe dating, and healthy relationship skill programs, parenting skills, and strengthening family relationships).
  5. Connecting youths to caring adults and activities (e.g., mentoring and after school programs).
  6. Intervening to lessen immediate and long-term harm through enhanced primary care to identify and address adverse childhood experience exposures with screening, referral, and support; victim-centered services; and advancement of trauma-informed care for children, youths, and adults with a history of adverse childhood experience exposures.



Merrick MT, Ford DC, Ports KA, et al. Vital Signs: Estimated Proportion of Adult Health Problems Attributable to Adverse Childhood Experiences and Implications for Prevention — 25 States, 2015–2017. MMWR Morb Mortal Wkly Rep 2019;68:999-1005. DOI: icon. (Link)


  1. I’ve got some better ideas.

    1.) Start arresting the child molesters. Feel free to start with the piece of garbage that abused my child. That sick pedo now has “delusions of grandeur” he’s a “Mag Man.” Thanks largely to the ELCA Lutheran/”mental health” workers’ multibillion dollar, “dirty little secret of the two original educated professions,” child abuse covering up “mental health” system.

    2.) Get the psychologists and psychiatrists out of the child abuse covering up, denying, and pedophile empowering business. Covering up child abuse has been, and still is, the primary actual societal function of the “mental health” workers … for over a century, it appears.

    Although they cover up child abuse in conjunction with the religions, like my former child abuse covering up and profiteering religion. I’d be one of the many “widows” mentioned in the Preface of this book, and check out the chapter on evil.

    3.) All this child abuse covering up and denying goes for ALL industries which use the DSM. Because today NO “mental health” or social worker may EVER bill ANY insurance company for EVER helping ANY child abuse survivor EVER, unless they first misdiagnose ALL child abuse survivors. So that is what our “mental health” workers have been doing.

    4.) I’m quite certain we should get some industry – other than the “mental health” and social worker industries – because they’ve been betraying child abuse survivors on a massive societal scale for decades or longer, to actually help child abuse survivors and their legitimately concerned parents.

    5.) I agree decreasing economic injustices would be an excellent idea, but this would require a return to the rule of law. Which, of course, would include things like arresting and convicting those who’ve been covering up child abuse for profit for decades. It would also include arresting and convicting the never ending war mongering and profiteering, fiscally irresponsible, bailout needing, “trillions in homes” stealing, banksters.

    6.) It is highly likely that “early childhood home visitation” is a bad idea, especially visitation by the, can’t bill to EVER help ANY child abuse survivor EVER, DSM believers. I was able to scare the $7000/year, “high-quality childcare, preschool enrichment” school my children went to into closing it’s doors forever, once the medical evidence of the child abuse was finally handed over. So, if we have such programs, it should be made certain that such schools do not have pedophiles on their school boards, like that school did.

    7.) End the “intervening” by the child rape profiteering primary care physicians as well. A pediatrician recently told me she couldn’t stop defaming and neurotoxic poisoning the little children because “it’s too profitable.”

    8.) Get rid of CPS, they don’t look into real cases of child abuse, even when medical evidence of the abuse is in hand, and that organization is a hot mess in many ways.

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  2. Certainly it is a great thing to ‘intervene’ at an early age. The only problem with that is the fact that psychiatry at some level is involved, spreading their biblical ideal of ‘normal’ and alternatives like counseling and meds. With children, psychiatry can cause mental problems and so can counseling. I doubt it ever prevents abuse. How can a system that believes so strongly in deviation from norms, holds children to some adult construct of “normal”, a system that is dark and HIGHLY abusive themselves talk about rescuing? Psychiatry should show videos of enforced treatments to youth so that youth knows what could happen if they disclose ‘voices’, or feeling sad. Any system that ‘helps’ children and families eventually runs like a little girl to the gatekeepers of normalcy.

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  3. Ditching the DSM should be on the list. The DSM a highly trauma-misinformed or trauma-denying or trauma-delegitimizing document, and to attempt to provide “trauma-informed care” while working in a DSM framework is utterly impossible to accomplish. Those who really do effective trauma work either ignore the DSM entirely or use it for insurance billing. It has no place in actual therapeutic intervention for trauma survivors.

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