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CDC Reports Childhood Trauma As Major Cause Of Health Issues In Adults

Woman sitting in the floor, holding head.
Kittiphan/Adobe Stoc

Childhood trauma has long-lasting effects on a person's well-being. According to recent data, it impacts thousands of Idahoans with serious health conditions and even death. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, said at least five of the top ten causes of death are associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences or ACEs. ACEs include abuse, neglect or serious family dysfunction that can potentially be traumatic. The CDC also finds that ACEs contribute to 44 percent of depression, 33 percent of smoking and 24 percent of asthma cases. 

Roger Sherman heads the Idaho Children's Trust Fund and said he did the math on how these issues could be reduced in Idaho if ACEs were prevented.

"We should be able to prevent up to 32,000 cases of depression or help people experiencing depression,” Sherman said. “We could reduce the number of people who smoke by about 60,000 people. Looking at things like asthma, close to 28,000 people could be impacted by that."

Sherman said if it isn't dealt with, childhood trauma can carry throughout every aspect of a person's life. The CDC said ACEs are attributable to unemployment in 15 percent of cases.

According to Sherman, there needs to be urgency around this issue. He said the best way to prevent adverse experiences is to start early with families and to make parenting programs cool so that everybody wants to take them.

"Too often, we see parenting classes as a punishment rather than something that would be good for all of us to do,” Sherman said.

Sherman said it's also important to not shame parents for what they don't know. He said positive experiences in children's lives are the best way to prevent the negative effects of ACEs.