ACE Study Finally Getting the Attention it Deserves

In 1998 the first findings from the landmark Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) study were published.  The ACES looked retrospectively at a population of more than 17,000 adults and was able to demonstrate a clear link between exposure to violence and adversity in childhood and poor physical and mental health outcomes in adulthood.  In 2012, 14 years later, these findings are finally getting the attention they deserve in public health and elsewhere. Last week, for example, The Wisconsin Children's Trust Fund and Children’s Hospital released “Adverse Childhood Experiences in Wisconsin:  Findings from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Survey”.  In December 2011 the American Academy of Pediatrics produced a bold policy statement titled Early Childhood Adversity, Toxic Stress, and the Role of the Pediatrician: Translating Developmental Science into Lifelong Health  which recognizes the importance of the ACEs and  related recent neuroscientific research that document the negative impact of childhood adversity and toxic stress on development. In March 2011 the New Yorker magazine featured Paul Tough's "The Poverty Clinic"  a portrayal of pediatrician Nadine Burke who transformed her practice in a poor neighborhood in San Francisco after learning about the ACEs.  Is this the tipping point?  Robert Anda, MD, co-investigator of the ACEs study thinks we are almost there."There is beginning to be a critical mass of people who ‘get it,’ who understand that if you want to have healthy people you need to have healthy human development."