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Beginnings Guides Blog

Adverse Childhood Experiences –ACEs–Lead to Chronic Pain & Disease in Adulthood

Previously on this page, we’ve discussed ACEs– abuse, neglect, poverty, parental death,
divorce, drug use, or incarceration in childhood – and mounting evidence of their profound
in adulthood. 

Now analysis of data from the World Health Organization’s Mental Health Surveys in 10 countries
adds considerable weight to the theory that ACEs predispose a person poor health as an adult.
ACEs that produced anxiety and depression in childhood were associated with chronic pain in
adulthood due to arthritis, headache or chronic back or neck pain. Further, a history of three or more
ACEs was associated with onset of all six physical conditions the survey covers: heart disease, asthma,
diabetes,arthritis, chronic spinal pain, and chronic headache. The study confirmed earlier findings 
suggesting a link between child physical abuse and an even longer list of adult chronic diseases.

Home visitors and parent educators are the front line of family support to prevent ACEs and reduce
their lifelong effects. 

Beginnings Parents Guide presents this checklist to determine if a toddler is stressed out and may be
depressed:

Is she extra fussy, cranky, easily upset                          [] Yes  [] No

No Has she gone back to crawling?                                [] Yes  [] No

Has she stopped using words that she knows?                 [] Yes  [] No

Does she look away when you talk to her?                      [] Yes  [] No

Does she cover her ears, back up, or try to                    [] Yes  [] No
hide when someone talks loudly?  

Does she withdraw and become silent?                         [] Yes  [] No

One yes answer suggests the child is over-stressed and may be reacting to ACEs. She is at risk for depression.
©Practice Development Inc.   

For more on infant/toddler stress and what to do about it, see Beginnings Parents Guide, pages 98- 103

Reference: Association of Childhood Adversities and Early-Onset Mental Disorders With Adult-Onset
Chronic Physical Conditions. Kate M. Scott; Michael Von Korff; Matthias C. Angermeyer; Corina Benjet;
Ronny Bruffaerts; Giovanni de Girolamo; Josep Maria Haro; Jean-Pierre Lépine; Johan Ormel; José
Posada-Villa; Hisateru Tachimori; Ronald C. Kessler. Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2011; 68(8):838-844. 
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