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Columnist: A bad childhood affects lifelong health []



Would you like to know what causes about a quarter of all cancers and heart disease? Are you curious why some people die 20 years too early? Is it hard to understand why there is so much anxiety, hopelessness and unhappiness out there? Or why kids drop out of school or even sometimes attempt suicide?

Would you be relieved to know that much of this suffering can be prevented? And would you be surprised to hear that your health care provider may not know how?

As a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Mission Hospital, I've been working to prevent child abuse by examining something known as "adverse childhood experiences."

In the late '90s, the CDC supported a study with more than 17,000 subjects to see if there was a relationship between child abuse and health and well-being later in life. The center used a questionnaire that asked about the most common childhood traumas (adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs) such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse; alcohol or drug abuse, mental illness or violence in the home; absence of one or both parents, and emotional and physical neglect.


[For more of this story, written by Adrienne Coopey, go to]

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