Different childhood adversities lead to different health inequalities

Even experiencing just one type of adverse childhood experience (ACE) increases the risks of poor health outcomes in adulthood, including health-harming behaviours, poor sexual and mental health, and crime and violence.

Among people experiencing one type of ACE, this study examined which ACEs were most strongly related to each type of health harms, using a combined study sample of 20,556 18–69 years living in England and Wales. The research team, including VISION researcher Mark Bellis, found that sexual abuse in childhood strongly predicted subsequent obesity. Sexual abuse also showed the biggest increase in later cannabis use. Household alcohol problems in childhood was the ACE most strongly associated with violence and incarceration in adulthood. 

Toxic stress can arise from ACEs such as physical and sexual abuse, but other more prevalent ACEs, for example verbal abuse and parental separation, may also contribute substantively to poorer life course health.

For further information, please see: Comparing relationships between single types of adverse childhood experiences and health-related outcomes: a combined primary data study of eight cross-sectional surveys in England and Wales | BMJ Open

Or contact Mark Bellis at M.A.Bellis@ljmu.ac.uk

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