Childhood Trauma – health conditions.



Early childhood trauma is a risk factor for almost everything, from adult depression to PTSD and most psychiatric disorders, as well as a host of medical problems, including cardiovascular problems such as heart attack and stroke, cancer, and obesity.


What changes can occur due to trauma?


Behavioral changes resulting from trauma. People who are suffering from traumatic memories may try to escape them by participating in risky behaviors such as drinking, smoking, drug use, or even overeating for comfort. Those can all be used as a coping mechanism, a way of dealing with emotional dysregulation that occurs when someone has been traumatized.  These habits, in turn, lead to health problems. Even when you don’t participate in high-risk behavior, you’re more likely to have a worse health outcome.


Physical effects related to trauma. The problem goes beyond unhealthy habits. Experts believe that there is actually a direct biological effect that occurs when your body undergoes extreme stress. When you experience something anxiety-provoking, your stress response activates. Your body produces more adrenaline, your heart races, and your body primes itself to react.  Someone who has experienced trauma may have stronger surges of adrenaline and experience them more often than someone who has not had the same history. This causes wear and tear on the body. Stress responses have also been demonstrated in people who have experienced discrimination throughout their lives. It ages your system faster.


Chronic stress can increase inflammation in the body, and inflammation has been associated with a broad range of illness, including cardiovascular disease and autoimmune diseases. Early trauma disrupts the inflammatory system. This can lead to long-term aberrations in this system and chronic health problems triggered by constant inflammation. Typically, the more trauma you’ve experienced, the worse your health is.


Do we need to care? What exactly were the ACE-study findings?

About two-thirds of individuals reported at least one adverse childhood experience; 87% of individuals who reported one ACE reported at least one additional ACE.

The number of ACEs was strongly associated with adulthood high-risk health behaviors such as smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, promiscuity, and severe obesity, and correlated with ill-health including depression, heart disease, cancer, chronic lung disease and shortened lifespan.

Compared to an ACE score of zero having 4 or more points on the ACE questionnaire resulted in 2.5 times more chance of having OCPD, 2.5 times more chance of having hepatitis, 4.5 times more chance for the onset of depression, 12 (!!) times more risk of suicidality.


The ACE study’s results suggest that maltreatment and household dysfunction in childhood contribute to health problems decades later.


These include chronic diseases—such as heart disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes. The study’s findings, while relating to a specific population within the United States, might reasonably be assumed to reflect similar trends in other parts of the world, according to the World Health Organization.



If you want to take the ACE-questionnaire yourself, you can take the test here.

If you want to find out about how the ACE-study was set up, click here.

If you want to know more about what childhood trauma is, click here.



Resources and References.


Online article click Past trauma may affect future health Harvard Health Publishing.

Online article from Wikipedia, Adverse Childhood Experiences Study. 

Picture from CleanPNG.



19 thoughts on “Childhood Trauma – health conditions.

  1. I think one of the most interesting findings of this study was that health behaviours are not the major factor that influences outcomes. Makes it a lot harder to blame people for their own health problems.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Wow, trauma really stacks the deck against you. This is why I’m always amazed when I hear about people who have survived events that certainly sound traumatizing to me and yet continued to live long lives, like centenarians who had direct experiences of World War II as children. I doubt I’ll be a centenarian myself, though I’ll (not) cross that bridge when I come to it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I really wonder how they cope with traumas like that. Surviving a war, they must have seen and heard terrible things. Still some people have the strength to approach life in a positive way and they don’t pass on the traumas to future generations. Of course such things are engraved in the family history.
      I wander what their ‘secret’ is. Would it be so ‘simple’ as to turn the page? When survived ‘death’ as so to speak, that life becomes so precious and dear, to be celebrated?
      I also believe that a lot of trauma are buried in the minds of people, while others go schools to teach about their experiences. Survival strength ….
      I hope that life itself heals and that people can rejoice all the positives they encounter on their journey and that they will encounter positives.
      I think your example of centenarians holds proof of the resilience of children, our beautiful minds and the hopeful side of the human race. Thank you for bringing all that into my mind, it’s the perfect start of the day.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. to me the ACE questionnaire leaves a lot of things unanswered in regard to childhood abuse. Manipulation of a child by an adult (not in a sexual way), having a child lie for a parent, multiple relationships of a parent, one parent putting another parent down to the child, child being sent back and forward between parents as punishment, death, was the child abandoned, fostered, were there accidents causing injuries, were there incidents home burning down, left alone, forgotten to be picked up from school numerous occasions, how many times did you move home, how many different schools did you have, it is a very simplistic tool that misses a lot of other especially emotional abuse things.

    I do feel that it is also the way children are viewed has changed my great grand parents worked 7 days a week as kids in Australia, and my father worked full time as all his siblings did with my Pop who was a rabbiter (caught a rabbits tanning the pelts to send to a Akubra Hats). 7 days a week the traps had to be checked and reset, and the pelts tanned.

    In the US
    After several stalled attempts in congress, the NCLC-backed Fair Labor Standards Act passed in 1938 with child labor provisions that remain the law of the land today, barring the employment of anyone under the age of 16.

    In the UK The campaign against child labour culminated in two important pieces of legislation – the Factory Act (1833) and the Mines Act (1842). The Factory Act prohibited the employment of children younger than nine years of age and limited the hours that children between nine and 13 could work.

    In Australia From the 1870s, child labour was restricted by compulsory schooling. Child labour laws in Australia differ from state to state. Generally, children are allowed to work at any age, but restrictions exist for children under 15 years of age.

    Children have only had the right to education for a few generations and as to having play time and sport time, this is a relatively modern concept. Children had NO rRIGHTS in any way and still don’t in many countries around the world.

    So the childhood that we all have lived through has been very very different from those of previous generations prior to say 1900s when only the very wealthy may have had a non working life. As children were still being used in work situations say the mining industry and chimney sweeping, where their size made them useful.

    I am just saying that in the past we all would have had to manage to the best of our abilities. Depending where we fit on the line of poverty to wealth.

    It is only over the last 70 years where the idea that children could be harmed in any way by the way their parents cared or not for them. It is only now the impacts are known and I guess the folk who have lived to be centenarians also did the best they could. You know back 100 years ago kids did not speak unless spoken to , they would be punished if they spoke back to any adult. Abuse went on but it was ignored, or allowed to happen because it was just part of life, and what men and some women do.

    It is I truly believe the women’s movement and the right for women to vote that helped change how children were used and perceived. Given a voice over the religious and patriarchal society. I am very appreciative that for me I have as an adult a chance to become who I am and not the perceived person others wanted me to be. Sorry if this is very all over the place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I do agree with your comment and no need to apologize for anything!

      As I understand the ACE-study was done with a large number of participants. Which is the strength of the study. One of the many limitations is, that it only looks within one generation and that the reports of subject are indeed subjective. They have tried I guess to ask valid questions regarding some very broad themes within the theme of ‘child abuse’. Not everything is covered and not everything is conceptualized. That is very true.
      Is it though a beginning attempt to examine health conditions in relations to the events in the past.
      To look at it in a more inter generational manner would be very interesting.

      Like you described the brief history of how we perceive children now is very different to what they were in the earlier days (cheap labor) and in some countries and industries still are. Exactly in the mining industry, mining for mica would be an example.
      Although I believe that children are resilient and that a loving parent/family/siblings/teacher can act as a protective agent in whatever the circumstances are. (this is my view) Not saying that children can endure everything, just make sure that they have a good teacher, not at all. A protective figure can help to make the damage smaller.

      A lot of the concepts you spoke about like manipulation, parental alienation, a (mentally) ill parent, losses, attacks, moving houses, losing a pet, a divorce can form a significant belief with consequences for the child. It can hinder the growth and development of the personality.
      Those concepts, some of them, are known in the field of psychology but I have no knowledge of a survey that would include them all. What we do have a clusters for warning signs of abuse, mostly used in schools etc. Like is the child underfed, socially too pleasing, acting out, not properly clothed for the season … is there something off? Then you have mandated reporters who would look into this on an individual level where I hope the things you mentioned are taken into account.

      Fact is, and I’m going to conclude my long answer here, is that some things are still hard to speak about today because the proper language isn’t there yet (for me). Like (emotional) neglect, manipulation, loss of a parent and the consequences, moving countries … I know I have those scars but I do’t know how to make them clear. I don’t know of a test that would give me a ‘score’ to see how bad it was and is.
      Sometimes we don’t think that our trauma’s are so bad, are they really? I doubt myself and keep quiet.

      What I liked about the study is that you can see a direct relation between trauma and adult life with effects on general health. For me it proves that not all is ‘made up’ and that gives me the strength to believe in my truth.

      Thank you for your well thought, respectful and interesting answer!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I never realised so much about my childhood. I never knew how poor we were at times, I never understood that I was neglected or emotionally abused most of my life with my family until I began working through why I have so many and at times lengthy periods in my childhood adolescence and times as a young adult when I had to return to my mothers home to live for a while. I have come to realise only in the last two years that I was treated very differently to my two older siblings who have both refused to answer some of my questions neither have said they were beaten until they were bruised. Since I have broken all contact with my family except with my brother purely on my conditions. I have moved forward in some ways. It is really sad it has taken me so long to get the support even though I did seek help in the past.

        I see and agree with your reason for liking the study as a direct relation between trauma and adult life with impacts on general health, and I am an emotional eater who is morbidly obese interestingly again the weight is coming off me since cutting ties with family and I am very much aware of my binge eating patterns.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. When you’re in that situation, when you’re raised in that way, you can’t see what is wrong or different. I was like that for me. I was isolated, no other people in the home! No talking about what happens here! Even when I went to therapy for the first time, I was explicitly forbidden to talk about it.
        I think you can only realize some things when you can look back at a situation and you can distance yourself from it. My first therapist said that it wasn’t a good idea to start living on my own, so there the therapy did end.
        It’s so wonderful that the weight is coming off, I imagine it can feel like a relief leaving some of the old burden ‘behind’.
        I have my unhealthy patterns too, I recycle the thoughts that I’m not worthy of a better, happier and healthier life because of ‘proof’ in the past. Sometimes it seems so easy to take steps forward and sometimes it feels like I’m caught without a perspective. Maybe the depression. I’m going to listen to Dr Eger now, maybe it can inspire me 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Trauma is such a troll. It’s been hanging out in my body doing troll~ish things for such a long time. Great article, so many people downplay the affects of trauma in their lives by comparing it to other peoples who’s seem “worse”. There’s a great book titled “The Choice” written by a 92 year old woman who survived Auschwitz. She became a trauma counselor. Such an inspiration! She touched on the fact that trauma is trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s such a good read. Lot’s of tears will be shed, for her, for yourself and for the world as a whole. Keep the Kleenex handy. Author is Dr. Edith Eva Eger.
        I also listened to an audio book about a gal who was held captive for 18 years since the age of 11. She birthed 2 children at age 14 and 17. Her outlook is outstanding, I don’t know how she could be so freaking positive, that’s a lot of “manure” for one life. Geez………..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I’m going to ask for the book maybe for Valentine, we’ll see 🙂
        Sometimes I can’t believe any person can handle so much manure but on the other hand what choice does one really have? To stay and live in the manure or to stick your head out and see what’s outside?
        The thing is, I can talk the talk but the walking is something different!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. So true, so very true. The walking is what sands off our rough edges and gives us compassion for others. Sometimes my walk looks like an army crawl


    1. A parent is the first provider and protector of a child so we learn our first lessons through our parents. Like Dr Edi took it upon her to be not so beautiful but very smart. In that way the role of the parent shapes how children see the world as safe, fair, fun or maybe an anxious, dangerous place. Having two parents makes a difference because the child gets two perspectives which makes it more balanced.
      In my belief the age will also play an important issue, the younger the child, the more likely it will be that he/she will not understand what is going on and is maybe not able to express those feelings, the feelings get locked up or memory loss can happen…
      When trauma occurs outside the family, I think I can be very traumatic. It depends if the child is believed, is helped, is listened too or is he/she all alone with those feelings, maybe not able to proces what is happening.
      I think a trauma is a trauma. The resilience of the child and it’s care takers can minimize the effect it has or will have.


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