By Jesse Kohler, executive director of CTIPP
The original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) study illustrated the root cause of many of the most persistent social and chronic health challenges facing the United States today.
Of course, the ten categories in the original ACE study, nor the additional ACEs added to expanded ACE studies, encompass all of the Developmental Adversity (DA) and potential traumas that can be experienced during and after childhood.
And yet, one of the powerful aspects of having a finite number of widespread experiences is that it allows us to calculate impact at the population level.
A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) found that every year, the U.S. spends $748 billion annually in health care costs and lost productivity caused by ACEs. If our nation had trauma-informed policies and practices in place to reduce ACEs, the federal government could save $217 billion annually.
And what about the human cost when we don’t proactively address or prevent ACEs? New data is shedding light on what happens when trauma becomes a normal part of life and/or embedded into our communities.
Based on 2017 data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 2,258, 251 Americans died from ACEs-related health risk factors. When you multiply the CDC data by population attributable risk from ACEs and add the ACE-related health factors, the total number of deaths caused by ACEs in the U.S. in 2017 was 649,560.
The enclosed table provides a breakdown:
It is important to note that the economic and health-related data are conservative estimates, so the death toll is likely higher than these already exorbitant figures. It is also important to note that ACEs are not predictive on an individual level, but just from a macro-sociological perspective. One’s ACE score is not their destiny.
It’s clear that more must be done on the front end to prevent ACEs, DA, and trauma, as well as effective mitigation when trauma occurs. Those policies and practices must be woven into the fabric of our society’s institutions and systems to end the cycle of preventable disease, suffering, and death while building resilience and healing.
CTIPP remains committed to creating a trauma-informed, resilience-focused, and healing-centered society with readily-available resources to help individuals, families, and communities adapt to adversity and stress in healthy and productive ways.
Each person has a role to play in building the movement to prevent trauma and foster resilience. Get involved however you are able and willing because it will take a groundswell of support to improve national trends. If we all work together, we know it’s possible to promote holistic wellbeing.