New CDC Report: Childhood Trauma Linked To Poor Health Outcomes

Abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction are all types of "adverse childhood experiences," or ACEs.
[Centers for Disease Control and Prevention / Robert Wood Johnson Foundation]
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Children who experience serious trauma are more likely to have poor health as adults, if the trauma is not addressed, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The report is putting a national spotlight on the problem of adverse childhood experiences, or ACEs, but many in Cleveland’s medical community having been looking for ways to better address childhood trauma for several years, said Lisa Ramirez, child psychologist for the MetroHealth system.

Health officials sometimes use a screening tool, which includes a series of questions to be answered by the child or the parent. The child is then assigned a score based on the answers to the questions. The score refers to the different types of abuse, neglect or other trauma the child may have experienced, Ramirez said.

“I think the challenge is that it's actually very difficult to screen for things like ACEs in a way that you can respond to readily," said Ramirez. So simply screening kids doesn't fix the issue; providers need strategies for what comes next, she said. 

MetroHealth is in the beginning phase of working with local mental health provider OhioGuidestone to develop some screening programs, Ramirez said.

The agency has been working on several pilot programs with other providers, including NEON clinics and University Hospitals to screen kids for trauma, according to UH officials.

There’s still more work to be done, however,  in figuring out how to help kids who are identified through this screening process.

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