Nearly two-thirds of California adults have experienced at least one type of major childhood trauma, such as physical, verbal or sexual abuse, or living with a family member who abuses alcohol or is depressed, according to a report released today.
The report – “Hidden Crisis: Findings on Adverse Childhood Experiences in California” (HiddenCrisis_Report_1014) – also reveals the effects of those early adversities: a startling and large increased risk of the adult onset of chronic disease, such as heart disease and cancer, mental illness and violence or being a victim of violence.
Ten types of childhood trauma were measured. They include physical, sexual and verbal abuse, and physical and emotional neglect. Five family dysfunctions were also measured: a family member diagnosed with mental illness, addicted to alcohol or other drug, or who has been incarcerated; witnessing a mother being abused, an losing a parent to separation, divorce or other reason.
Each type of trauma counts as an ACE (adverse childhood experience) score of one. The more ACEs a person has, the higher the risk of facing physical, mental and social problems.
For example, Californians who have an ACE score of 4 or more are nearly twice as likely to have asthma, 2.4 times as likely to have chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, 1.7 times as likely to have kidney disease, and 1.5 times as likely to have a stroke. They’re five times more likely to be depressed and four times more likely to develop dementia or Alzheimer’s. Those with an ACE score of 4 or more are approximately three times more likely to smoke, binge drink and engage in risky sexual behavior. They’re nearly 12 times more likely to be the victim of sexual violence after they’re 18 years old.
One in six Californians – 16.7% — has an ACE score of 4 or higher. (Got Your ACE Score?)