US study calls for more treatment, prevention in childhood abuse

It's long been acknowledged that children who experience trauma are more likely to suffer health consequences later in life. But to what extent?

A comprehensive study in the United States aims to answer that for the first time.

CGTN's Gerald Tan takes a look at some of the astonishing findings.


This new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at 144,000 respondents living across 25 U.S. states.

It found that more than 60% experienced at least one type of adverse childhood experience - or ACE, while nearly 16% experienced four or more ACEs.

They can range from exposure to physical violence and witnessing drug abuse, to surviving a school shooting or living in neighborhoods where gunshots are common.

The study says ACEs have a direct correlation on one's lifespan and quality of life. Childhood trauma is linked to five of the top ten causes of death: heart disease, diabetes, respiratory conditions, cancer, and suicide. It's also a trigger for chronic health conditions, such as depression, smoking and drinking.

Crucially, the study adds that preventing toxic stress early on can have measurable outcomes: It could reduce the number of adults who have heart disease by 1.9 million cases, cut the number of overweight or obese adults by 2.5 million cases and slash some 21 million cases of depression.

The consequences of bad childhood experiences are widely known. But generations of families currently live with untreated trauma.