Know your risk factors:Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)

ACEs, photo credit: NPR.org

ACEs, photo credit: NPR.org

Traumatic experiences during your childhood have the potential to wreak havoc over your life span and increase health risks.  The examples above are known as Adverse Childhood Experiences or "ACEs."

The U.S. study (undertaken by Kaiser Permanente and the CDC) has followed participants who were originally recruited in the mid-late 1990s.  In summary, they found that Adverse Childhood Experiences are common and the more ACEs one has, the greater chances of experiencing poor health outcomes such as depression, alcohol and drug abuse, heart disease, cancer and shorter life spans.

We also know having a history of abuse and/or neglect are correlated to higher incidence of depression and anxiety during pregnancy and the postpartum period for both women and men, as well as greater possibility of adverse effects on mother-infant bonding.

What does this tell us and where do we go from here?

(1) Resilience: we can't forget this counter to adversity.  Resilience is positive adaptation within the context of significant adversity. Your ACEs score may NOT reflect with accuracy your outcomes and behaviors.  Resilience is influenced by an individual's "protective factors." In short, these include things like positive social connections, close & stable relationships with parents/caregivers, and having a sense of purpose (faith, culture, identity).

 (2) The OPPORTUNITY during preparation for starting a family, child birth and early parenting to learn and prevent adverse outcomes and effects on your bond with your child.  

We give each of our clients an opportunity to understand what risk factors they may have and the ways any risk factors can be approached to lessen chances of negative outcomes.  We are here to support and care for you in your journey of parenthood; whatever your unique journey may hold.

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Lauren DePaolaComment