Why are adverse childhood experiencesso damaging? Toxic stress
Extensive research on the biology of stress shows that healthydevelopment can be derailed by excessive or prolongedacvaon of the body’s stress response systems, withdamaging eects on learning, behavior and health.Learning to cope with stress is an important part of childdevelopment. When we are threatened, our bodies prepareus to respond by increasing our heart rate, blood pressureand stress hormones, such as corsol. When a young child’sstress response systems are acvated within an environment of supporve adult relaonships, these physiological eects arebuered and brought back down to baseline. The result is thedevelopment of healthy stress response systems.Toxic stress occurs when a child experiences strong, frequentand/or prolonged adversity—physical or emoonal abuse,chronic neglect, caregiver substance abuse or mental illness,exposure to violence and/or the accumulated burdens of familyeconomic hardship—without adequate adult support.The prolonged acvaon of stress response systems disruptsthe development of brain architecture and other organs andincreases the risk for stress-related disease and cogniveimpairment. The more adverse experiences in childhood, thegreater the likelihood of developmental delays and later healthproblems, including heart disease, diabetes, substance abuseand depression.
— from the Harvard Center for the Developing Child, hp://developingchild.harvard.edu/topics/science_of_early_childhood/toxic_stress_response/
Learning about ACEs in Iowa
Iowa advocates are just starng to explore the prevalenceof ACEs, but we already know the Iowa adult populaon hashealth problems strongly associated with ACEs in naonalstudies. In 2010, an esmated:66% (1,534,756) of Iowans we• re overweight or obese8% (173,877) had been told they were diabec, and•another 6% (122,236) prediabec8% (178,514) had cardiovascular disease•16% (373,256) were current smokers, and 23% (542,497)•former smokers5% (120,555) were heavy drinkers, and 17% (391,803)•binge drinkers
These health outcomes are costly. Esmates aributed $738million in Iowa health care costs to adult obesity in 2003,with almost 50 percent of those costs paid by Medicare($165 million) and Medicaid($198 million).
Chroniccardiovascular healthcondions cost Iowans anesmated $1.34 billionannually.
The total cost of diabetes in Iowa exceeds$1.5 billion a year.
Long term, one of the most important ways to containhealth costs is not by nding cheaper ways to treat suchcondions, but prevenng them in the rst place. Prevenngor migang the eects of ACEs is one place to start.To document ACEs in the Iowa populaon, health plannersthis year added specic ACEs-related quesons to an annualstate health survey conducted by the CDC. The BehavioralRisk Factor Surveillance System is a mely and accuratesource of Iowa data on health risk behaviors, prevenve-health pracces, and health-care access, primarily relatedto chronic disease and injury. Responses on ACEs will beavailable for analysis in fall 2013.
Toxic stress occurs when a child experiencesstrong, frequent and/or prolonged adversity.
One way to containhealth costs is by
and risky behaviors.Addressing ACEs is aplace to start.
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