Story by: Erin R. Frazier, M.D. on December 3, 2018
Traumatic life events, also called adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), such as repeated childhood trauma or toxic stress, can lead to long-term health issues. These may include a higher risk for chronic disease and substance abuse.
But a child who lived with ACEs can escape these ill effects in a safe, stable and nurturing environment where they can adapt and build resilience.
In Kentucky, 27 percent of children up to age 17 have had two or more ACEs — that’s more than 6 percentage points higher than the national rate.
The “Adverse Childhood Experiences in Kentucky” section of the 2018 America’s Health Rankings report published by the United Health Foundation lists examples of common ACEs:
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There are effective strategies to build resiliency in children and improve their lives. According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, the presence of one reliable, nurturing adult in a child’s life can make all the difference. That nurturing adult can ensure a child’s well-being and buffer against the negative effects of trauma.
Kentucky Strengthening Families, a statewide initiative focused on improving outcomes for children and families, identifies several protective factors to support thriving families:
Dr. Frazier is a pediatrician at Norton Children’s Medical Group – Broadway and medical director of Norton Children’s Prevention & Wellness.