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US health officials link childhood trauma to adult illness

November 6, 2019

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Tuesday that states a plausible correlation between millions of cases of heart disease and other illnesses are linked to abuse and other physical and psychological harm suffered early in life.  While, it is noted that the study does not prove that early trauma is directly related to illnesses and other factors, for example, financial or family problems, however, the link is strong. Jim Mercy, overseer of CDC’s Violence Prevention Programs, states, “there's a lot of evidence connecting these things, and it's become clear that the more harmful incidents a child suffers, the more likely their health suffers later”. For the past twenty years, researchers have been studying the link between a person who experiences trauma or has witnessed trauma at a young age and their probability of physical injury or illness later in life.  Experts say that such traumatic experiences can often affect body development and can also steer a child further down a path of smoking, drug use, or various unhealthy behaviors.

Dr. Dayna Long, a researcher at the UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland says, "trauma really is a public health crisis that everybody needs to start addressing.” The findings are based on questionnaires of about 144,000 adults in 25 states that were conducted in 2015, 2016 or 2017. The surveys asked people about health problems. They also were asked about childhood experiences with divorce, abuse, domestic violence, or drug abuse in the home, or a relative's mental illness.

The survey did not assess how severe the experiences were, and it's not clear if some types of incidents are more harmful than others. CDC has been involved in previous research on the topic, but Tuesday's report is the agency's first on the national impact of the problem. The CDC found:

Adults who reported experiencing the most traumatic events were more at risk to heavily drink and smoke.  Certain demographics, especially women, African Americans, American Indians, and Alaskan Natives were most likely to experience four or more kinds of harm during childhood.  The number of adults with weight problems could be reduced by 2%, the number of adults of coronary heart disease by 13%, and the number of adults with depression by 44% if such traumatic incidents during childhood were prevented.

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Original content can be found here.

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