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ACEs and the Effect It Can Have on Children’s Health

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are traumatizing events that occur during childhood. ACEs include violence, abuse, and growing up in a family with mental health or substance addiction disorders. Toxic stress caused by ACEs can affect brain development and how the body responds to stress. ACEs have been linked to chronic health problems, mental illness, and substance dependence as they have matured. On the other hand, ACEs may be avoided.

Causes of ACEs

ACEs induce toxic stress and have long-term negative health effects. Because of a lack of time, nervousness about enquiring about the difficulties, and the belief that social/emotional risk factors in the family are outside the focus of the pediatric medical home, many doctors do not routinely screen for ACEs in primary care. Furthermore, routine ACEs screening is challenging since it is unknown whether to question the parent or the kid and which ACEs to inquire about, the child’s parents. The lack of direction highlights the necessity of converting research findings into preventative measures in primary care settings.

Many institutions have attempted to give research or test that might aid in determining the primary causes of ACEs. The American Academy of Pediatrics published a study examining the relationship between Behavioral (EDB) difficulties, ACE, development, emotional difficulties in kids. American Academy of Pediatrics is among such organizations that invested resources in research. Their study primarily aimed to establish the association between ACEs, chronic emotional, developmental, and behavioral challenges children face. They based their findings on many anonymous survey data, but their results were mainly on a survey from the National Survey of Children’s Health from 2016 (NSCH). This survey discusses how parents don’t necessarily cause stress but those kids may be stressed due to what their parents are going through, although they found that countless reasons may cause ACEs.

The reasons are grouped into ten and are also known as 10 ACEs. They include financial challenges based on the family’s income, divorce or separation among parents, sexual abuse, death of a guardian, incarceration of guardian, exposure to incidences of domestic violence, and being a victim or witness of neighborhood violence. Some other reasons include a family member with a mental illness, a family member with alcoholism or drug abuse problems, and feelings of disconnection from the family. However, financial challenges and divorce or separation among parents are the major causative reasons for ACEs. The two also influence the occurrence of other ACEs, thereby making strategic screening for children in need of additional support or evaluation more feasible.

The absence of these two ACEs is also significant in ruling out the need for further evaluation to detect additional ACEs. It also shows that the number of male and female children affected by ACEs is about equal; this indicates that ACEs don’t discriminate based on gender or nationality; ACEs might influence anyone if the youngster is exposed to the events as mentioned above and factors.

Impact of ACEs

ACEs have a very harmful effect on one’s life. Its impact mainly affects the child’s physical health, mental health, and behavior. Mersky, Topitzes, & Reynolds (2013) researched the most common and dangerous impacts of ACEs on a child’s life. In addition, the results show that ACEs increase the possibility of adverse-health-related outcomes in the later stages. Unfortunately, there is research and information on ACEs effects on early adulthood or across diverse populations. To identify possible impacts of ACEs, the researchers further independently and as a combination investigated drug use, mental health, and health outcomes. The effects of sex on possible moderating effects were also explored.

The research findings established that bad childhood experiences are associated with a greater frequency of mental health disorders and diseases such as posttraumatic stress disorder, anxiety, and depression (ACEs). Ethnic and racial minorities’ children are thought to have a disproportionately higher risk of negative childhood experiences than children from other racial groups. This study also revealed that adversity in early life is a substantial predictor of poor health later in life. The impacts were obtained by research studies and analyzing several surveys while information about authors searched the Chicago Longitudinal Study, primarily of looking individuals born between 1979 and 1980. To perform main-effect analysis, OLS regression and multivariate logistics were employed.

Stratified analysis was used to investigate gender differences, followed by testing interaction effects on the entire sample. Their studies established a significant relationship between poor early grown-up outcomes and Adverse Childhood Experiences from the outcome of their studies. On the same note, significant adversity was connected to bad life satisfaction and self-reported health. Moreover, they established significant depressive symptoms, psychological disorders, marijuana usage, cigarette, and anxiety. Cumulative adversity was also linked to cross-domain cumulative impacts. There were no significant differences between male and female children, proving that ACE’s impact doesn’t count on gender. “Haynes, Eboni” et al. did a study that was aimed to examine the effect of parental Adverse Childhood Experiences exposure on their kids. According to this study, traumatic events are linked to later-life parenting strategies, increasing the chance of ACE exposure in kids.

In the US, the most prevalent mental health illness is anxiety and depression. A data derived from 2014 to 2016 showed that parents who had an encounter of more than four Adverse Childhood Experiences might have anxiety and depression or both. The above data was linked to the Children’s Health Assessment Survey and South Carolina Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Furthermore, having a caregiver with depression or anxiety doubles the risk of their kid acquiring depression or anxiety compared to parents who do not have ACEs. The findings of these studies will contribute to the evidence supporting the need to perform screening for ACE exposure for the caregivers and kids for anxiety/ depression. In addition, addressing the impacts of trauma and developing resilience by using trauma-informed treatment.

Preventing ACEs

Although ACEs have a long-term negative influence on a person’s life, certain things may be done to mitigate this damage. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released data that projected the people affected in the United States by Aces. In addition, they offered a method on how to mitigate and prevent it. Childhood trauma is a public health concern that may be avoided, according to the CDC.

The strategies that can prevent ACEs from occurring are included in the technical package of six methods. They include families’ economic support should be improved, promoting societal norms that protect children from violence and adversity is a must, providing a strong start for children, acquiring new skills, linking youngsters to caring people and activities, cooperating to reduce short-term and long-term damages. But these strategies should be done under the psychologist’s recommendations.


ACEs can interrupt a child’s development by affecting their social, emotional, and brain abilities, leading to adverse health outcomes and potentially shortening life expectancy. They are caused by many reasons as emotional neglect, parents’ divorce, or some financial problems with the parents. The same strategies can also prevent them under psychologist care.


Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). (2019). Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidence. Retrieved 18 November 2021, from

Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health. (2021)National Survey of Children’s Health. Retrieved 18 November 2021, from

Haynes, E., Crouch, E., Probst, J., Radcliff, E., Bennett, K., & Glover, S. (2020). Exploring the association between a parent’s exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and outcomes of depression and anxiety among their children.Children and youth services review113, 105013.

Mersky, J. P., Topitzes, J., & Reynolds, A. J. (2013). Impacts of adverse childhood experiences on health, mental health, and substance use in early adulthood: A cohort study of an urban, minority sample in the US. Child abuse & neglect37(11), 917-925.

Thompson, L. A., Filipp, S. L., Mack, J. A., Mercado, R. E., Barnes, A., Bright, M., … & Gurka, M. J. (2020). Specific adverse childhood experiences and their association with other adverse childhood experiences, asthma and emotional, developmental and behavioral problems in childhood. Pediatric Research88(1), 100-109.

A Research published by the American Academy of Pediatrics looks at the link between ACEs, chronic emotional, developmental, and behavioral (EDB) difficulties in children.


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