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Adverse Childhood Experiences

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations ever conducted to assess associations between childhood maltreatment and later-life health and well-being.  Findings suggest that certain childhood experiences are major risk factors for the leading causes of illness and death as well as poor quality of life in the United States.

The study's researchers came up with an ACE Score to explain a person's risk for chronic diseases.  The ACE Score is used to assess the total amount of stress during childhood and has demonstrated that as your ACE Score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems.

According to Dr. Jeffrey Brenner, “I believe ACE scores should become a vital sign, as important as height, weight, and blood pressure.”

Dr Jeffrey Brenner is founder and executive director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers, and a 2013 MacArthur Foundation genius award winner. He did groundbreaking work in Camden, N.J., by using data to identify people who were hospital emergency room “frequent fliers”. He found that between their trips to the ER, little or nothing was done to help them improve their health.


This video looks at the relationship between ACEs and hospital emergency rooms.

Find Your ACE Score

You get one point for each type of trauma. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.  Click the link for the ACE Questionnaire.

The study is an ongoing collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Kaiser Permanente's Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.

It's interesting to note: The study’s participants were 17,000 mostly white, middle and upper-middle class college-educated San Diegans with good jobs and great health care – they all belonged to the Kaiser Permanente health maintenance organization.  These statistics would change when we add discrimination, marginalization, poverty, lack of access to resources and a quality education, etc.

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