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How childhood trauma affects health across a lifetime | Nadine Burke Harris


Childhood trauma isn’t something you just get over as you grow up. Pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris explains that the repeated stress of abuse, neglect and parents struggling with mental health or substance abuse issues has real, tangible effects on the development of the brain. This unfolds across a lifetime, to the point where those who’ve experienced high levels of trauma are at triple the risk for heart disease and lung cancer. An impassioned plea for pediatric medicine to confront the prevention and treatment of trauma, head-on.


How can we prevent adverse childhood experiences


ACEs are preventable. To prevent ACEs, we must understand and address the factors that put people at risk for or protect them from violence.

Creating and sustaining safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments for all children and families can prevent ACEs and help all children reach their full potential. CDC has produced a resource, Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs): Leveraging the Best Available Evidencepdf icon, to help states and communities use the best available evidence to prevent ACEs. It features six strategies from the CDC Technical Packages to Prevent Violence.


Raising awareness of ACEs can help:

  • Change how people think about the causes of ACEs and who could help prevent them.

  • Shift the focus from individual responsibility to community solutions.

  • Reduce stigma around seeking help with parenting challenges or substance misuse, depression, or suicidal thoughts.

  • Promote safe, stable, nurturing relationships and environments where children live, learn, and play.

Let’s help all children reach their full potential and create neighborhoods, communities, and a world where every child thrives.

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