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KVC Health Systems

How Childhood Trauma Affects Health Across a Lifetime

childhood trauma
*Photo credit: AOL Advertising

While working as a pediatrician in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in San Francisco, Dr. Nadine Burke Harris saw many patients who had experienced childhood trauma such as witnessing violence and abuse, having incarcerated parents and having caregivers with mental illness. Her discovery of the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study was the key to explaining why many of these kids weren’t developing at a normal rate and linking those experiences to increased risks for health problems and early death.

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In this TED Talk, Burke Harris discusses how the repeated stress of abuse, neglect, parental substance use and mental health issues impacts the developing brains and bodies of children and creates life-long effects.

Burke Harris has become a pioneer in the movement to transform how we respond to, treat and prevent childhood adversity. In 2018, she released a book called, “The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity.” It will be available for purchase at Barnes & Noble or online at

Learn more about the ACE Study or about KVC’s work to treat and prevent childhood trauma so that all children have the ability to develop healthy brains.

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