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Adverse Childhood Experiences

Adverse Childhood Experiences

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Preventing & Treating Childhood Trauma in Central Minnesota

Good health is determined by many factors. Eating and exercise get a lot of attention, and for good reason. But, our life experiences – especially experiences during childhood when our brains and bodies are rapidly developing – play a huge role in just how healthy we become later in life. When children experience negative or traumatic situations, it can have lasting effects.

These events are called “ACEs,” which stands for Adverse Childhood Experiences. Examples of ACEs include abuse, neglect and household dysfunction. They can be caused by stressful situations such as domestic violence, families going through divorce, as well as traumatic experiences such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse.

What We’ve Learned

Studies have shown that when children experience traumatic events, their health is significantly impacted. In fact, the long-term health effects of experiencing a traumatic situation can actually increase the likelihood of developing chronic diseases and even increase the risk of developing some cancers.

The impact is serious because traumatic experiences can cause changes in the part of a child’s brain that controls emotion and behavioral regulation. For example, when a child’s behavior changes drastically – such as extreme tantrums, poor sleeping or difficulty learning – it may be an indication of changes in their brain’s regulatory center. And this doesn’t just impact children. Parents who have experienced traumatic experiences during childhood may have a harder time regulating their own behaviors when dealing with their children.

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Helping Kids Overcome Adversity

Traumatic and adverse experiences in childhood increase the likelihood that a person will have health problems later in life. Children who have been victims of abuse or lost a parent are more likely to abuse substances, develop cancer, or become obese. We cannot always prevent adverse childhood experiences, but we can provide a supportive, healthy environment where the community collaborates to help children affected by these experiences.

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