Dr. Harris interview on NPR discusses what negative experiences can do to a growing child’s health. Children’s exposure to adverse childhood experiences, such as physical, emotional or sexual abuse, physical or emotional neglect, parental mental illness, substance dependence, incarceration, parental separation or divorce or domestic violence can negatively affect health outcomes.
Dr. Harris found that children who are exposed to these adverse experiences with an ACE (Adverse Childhood Experience) score of four or more, their relative risk of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease was 2.5 times that of someone with an ACE score of zero. For hepatitis, it was also 2.5 times. For depression, it was 4.5 times. For suicidality, it was 12 times. A person with an ACE score of seven or more had triple the lifetime risk of lung cancer. And 3.5 times the risk of ischemic heart disease, the number-one killer in the United States of America.
In the end, however, Dr. Harris stated there is hope through, multi-disciplinary treatment, home visits, care coordination, mental health care, nutrition, holistic interventions, and medication when necessary we can reverse the effects of stress hormones if detected early.