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Childhood adversity can lead to health problems later in life, study shows

Childhood hug
Posted at 11:48 AM, Oct 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-11 14:32:12-04

New research confirms that a person's childhood experiences can have an effect on physical health later in life.

The Journal of the American Medical Association just published a report showing that people who experience adversity as children are at high risk for death related to heart disease, cancer and lower respiratory disease.

Childhood adversity can also elevate the risk of suicide as an adult.

Experts define adverse childhood experiences (ACES) as potentially traumatic events that happen before the age of 18.

"They include things such as physical and emotional abuse, neglect, or even things such as household dysfunction such as parental substance abuse, parental incarceration, and even divorce is considered an adverse childhood experience," said Genevieve Rivera of the American Society for Positive Care of Children (SPCC).

The SPCC says that it's important for parents to be aware of these experiences to help their children. Unfortunately, that can't always be avoided.

"It's important that we spread the awareness that we can prevent some of these effects from later on in life, and we can prevent them through buffering the toxic stress, helping mitigate that toxic stress and building resilience," Rivera said.

Parents that feel that their child needs help dealing with toxic stress can find information and resources at the SPCC's website free of charge.