Nearly half of all children in the United States are exposed to at least one social or family experience that can lead to traumatic stress and impact their healthy development – be it having their parents divorce, a parent die or living with someone who abuses alcohol or drugs – increasing the risk of negative long-term health consequences or of falling behind in school, suggests new research led by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The study reports on new data showing the magnitude of these adverse experiences in the child population in the U.S., while also suggesting that training parents, providers, and communities to help children with trauma cope and build even basic aspects of resilience may soften the blows and lead to later success, despite the obstacles.
The findings are published in the December issue of the journal Health Affairs.
“This study tells us that adverse childhood experiences are common among U.S. children and, as demonstrated in adult studies, have lifelong impacts that begin early in life,” says study leader Dr. Christina D. Bethell, a professor in the department of population, family and reproductive health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
For the study, Dr. Bethell and her colleagues analyzed data from the 2011-12 National Survey of Children’s Health, a survey of parents of 95,677 children under 17 from throughout the United States.