By Gaby Galvin

PEOPLE WHO EXPERIENCED trauma as children are more likely to suffer severe health consequences later in life, a new federal analysis shows.

Adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, refer to potentially traumatic events experienced or witnessed during childhood, like violence, substance misuse and mental health problems in the home. Though public health experts say these events are an important upstream cause of major health and social struggles later in life, it’s been unclear just how substantially they impede American health overall.

In the first analysis of its kind, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated the link between self-reported ACEs and 14 negative health conditions and socioeconomic factors, using 2015-2017 survey data for more than 144,000 adults from 25 states.

They found that 60.9% of adults reported at least one adverse childhood experience, while 15.6% reported four or more types. Such experiences were “significantly associated with poorer health outcomes, health risk behaviors, and socioeconomic challenges,” the study says, including depression, heavy drinking, smoking, lower educational attainment and unemployment.

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