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The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study

adverse childhood experiences study

The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study is one of the largest investigations conducted to assess the connection between childhood trauma and later-life health and wellbeing. The study is a collaboration between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and Kaiser Permanente’s Health Appraisal Clinic in San Diego.

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The initial phase of the study was conducted at Kaiser from 1995 to 1997. More than 17,000 participants completed a standardized physical exam along with a confidential survey that contained questions about childhood abuse, neglect and family disfunction. Participants also detailed their current health status and behaviors. Findings from the ACE Study suggests that certain traumatic childhood experiences are major risk factors for health problems and early death.


An ACE score is the total number of adverse childhood experiences reported by respondents. As the number of ACE increases, the risk for health problems increases in a strong and graded fashion.


By understanding that some of the worst health and social problems arise from traumatic childhood experiences, we can work towards improving recovery and prevention efforts. The next phase of the ACE Study is currently underway, and will assess the relationship between childhood trauma, healthcare use and cause of death.

Click here to read more scientific information about the ACE Study.

KVC serves thousands of children and families each year and is leading the nation in the development of programs that promote trauma-informed care and ensure a trauma-sensitive culture. KVC has partnered with New York University and Dr. Glenn Saxe, Director of the NYU Child Study Center and founder of Trauma Systems Therapy (TST), to create the NYU/KVC Midwest Trauma Training Center. This innovative training center provides expertise to clinicians throughout the Midwest, promoting the use of effective trauma treatment and services for children, adolescents and families. KVC has collaborated with Dr. Saxe on the adaptation and implementation of TST throughout KVC’s continuum of care in child welfare. By understanding trauma and helping children heal from it, we can reduce the physical health problems that trauma often causes and improve children’s overall wellbeing long into adulthood.

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