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The Effects of Childhood Adversity on Health

J. Junker

On The Point, we discuss childhood trauma and how it impacts a person's mental and physical health throughout their lives.

A research study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and the American health maintenance organization Kaiser Permanente demonstrated an association of adverse childhood experiences (childhood trauma or ACEs) with health and social problems across the lifespan.

Studies found that an exposure to ACE’s dramatically increased the risk for seven out of 10 of the leading causes of death in the United States. In extrene cases, there are effects on brain development, the immune system, hormonal systems, and even the way DNA is read and transcribed. People who experience childhood trauma have triple the lifetime risk of heart disease and lung cancer and a 20-year difference in life expectancy. And yet, doctors today are not trained in routine screening or treatment.

Childhood trauma that involves abuse, neglect, or growing up with a parent who struggles with mental illness or substance dependence can have especially impactful effects. 

Guests on the program are Dr. Marc Whaley, psychiatrist, Dr. Jonathan Schwartz, psychiatrist, and Anne Geagan. Mindy Todd hosts. Here's a link to an article for more information on mental health, addiction, and the effects of childhood trauma.


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Mindy Todd is the host and producer of <i>The Point</i> on WCAI which examines critical issues for Cape Cod and the Islands. She brings more than 40 years of experience in radio and television to WCAI.