Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What is an adverse childhood experience?

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) refer to 10 categories of abuse, neglect or household dysfunction before age 18.

These 10 categories are:

  • 3 categories of abuse- emotional, physical, and sexual
  • 2 categories of neglect- emotional and physical
  • 5 categories of household dysfunction- living in a home with: domestic violence, mental illness, substance abuse, parental separation or divorce, incarceration of a family member

Dr. Vincent Felitti and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in their ACE Study gave a zero to 10 score to patients based on how many categories of abuse they experienced before age 18. After studying over 17,000 patients they discovered a strong-and-graded relationship between the number of categories of adverse experiences and later health, mental, and social problems. The greater the ACE score the higher the prevalence of disease, mental problems, and social problems.

To illustrate the effects of ACEs, a person with an ACE score of zero has a 1 out of 500 likelihood of attempting suicide. Compare that to a person with an ACE score of 6 having a 1 out of 14 likelihood of attempting suicide. The higher the ACE score. the greater the risk.

If you have a high ACE score, don't panic! The good news is, even with a ACE score of 6 you have a 13 out of 14 likelihood you will not attempt suicide!

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