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Somatosync » ACE score affects the physical mind and body

ACE score affects the physical mind and body

ACE score affects the physical mind and bodyIt is important that the collective world understand just how traumatic experiences in various forms affect the mind and body in very real physical ways.  While many people already understand this, there is a significant portion of the population that have not arrived at these conclusions.  This Adverse Childhood Experiences study is a good way at providing hard science to help all to understand and realize the importance of childhood trauma.

If anyone has been through trauma, they most likely understand this study from a deep point of view.  If you have been through a very significant amount of trauma, than you most likely will understand this without much effort.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences study (ACE) was conducted between 1995 and 1997 with over 17,000 participants.

In this study, each participant completed a confidential survey about experiences in their family during childhood.  The focus was on maltreatment and family dysfunction.  It also linked current behavior and their current health status.  The focus of this study is on the relationship of these adverse childhood experiences, health care and cause of death.

The results were then tabulated into a score, identified as the Adverse Childhood Experiences Score.  The score ranges from zero to ten.  The higher the score, the more exposure to childhood experiences that were adverse and the more likely that negative health situations will occur.

According to this study, the prevalence of emotional abuse was 10.6%, physical abuse was 28.3% and sexual abuse was 20.7% with women scoring higher on all three types of abuse.  In the case of sexual abuse, the prevalence in men was 16% versus women which was 24.7%.

Women Men Total
Emotional Abuse  13.1% 7.6% 10.6%
 Physical Abuse 27.0%  29.9% 28.3%
 Sexual Abuse  24.7% 16.0% 20.7%
Source:  ACE Study At CDC


Neglect was also measured in this study with women being slightly less on physical neglect (men = 10.7% and women = 9.2%).  As far as emotional neglect, men had a prevalence of 12.4% while women were at 16.7%.

Women Men Total
Emotional Neglect
16.7% 12.4% 14.8%
Physical Neglect
9.2% 10.7% 9.9%
Source:  ACE Study At CDC


When it comes to household dysfunction, the top areas were household substance abuse, followed by parental separation or divorce and then household mental illness.

According to the definitions used in this study, emotional abuse happened when someone was insulted, put down or went through times that made you think you were physically hurt.  Physical abuse involved being pushed, grabbed, slapped, hit or having something thrown at you.  Sexual abuse was touching, fondling or being touched in a sexual way.  It included oral, anal, or vaginal intercourse.

Neglect was defined and broken down in this study as emotional or physical.  For emotional , participants were measured by how their family made them feel special of loved and whether their family was a source of strength, support and protection.  Physical neglect involved not having enough to eat, how they were taken care of physically (i.e. clean or dirty) and if there was someone that could take them to the doctor should they need to go.

Household dysfunction involved things such as how a mother to stepmother was treated which may have involved being pushed, grabbed, slapped, kicked, bitten, hit or threatened with weapons such as a knife or gun.  Substance abuse , mental illness such as depression and attempted suicide were also factors measured as was parental separation or divorce.  A member of the household who was incarcerated was also a focus in household dysfunction.

Through the entire study, the major findings that adverse childhood experiences are very common.  More than 20% had a score of three or more.

ACE Score
Women Men Total
34.5% 38.0% 36.1%
24.5% 27.9% 26.0%
2 15.5% 16.4% 15.9%
3 10.3% 8.6% 9.5%
4 or more 15.2% 9.2% 12.5%
Source: ACE Study At CDC


As the ACE score increases, the child will be at higher risk of health factors from substance abuse, depression, suicide, and a health-related quality of life to serious health conditions like COPD, liver disease, and sexually transmitted diseases.  As the score increases so does the risk for intimate partner violence, unintended pregnancies and adolescent pregnancy.

Health Risks
 (as ACE increases)
Alcohol Abuse
Multiple Sexual Partners
COPD Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Depression Smoking
Fetal Death Suicide
Health Related Quality Of Life Unintended Pregnancies
Illicit Drug Use Early Smoking
Ischemic Heart Disease Early Sexual Activity
Liver Disease Adolescent Pregnancy
Intimate Partner Violence
Source: ACE Study At CDC


At this time, other countries are attempting to replicate the results of this study.  The study was published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 1998 (volume 14, pages 245 – 248).

For more information, see the ACE website or read all about the study at the CDC (Centers For Disease Control And Prevention)

To determine your ACE score, use the ACE Score Calculator.


My Thoughts

I am very happy to see this study being done because somatization is the physical way we manifest experiences in life.  This study gives strong credibility to this and hopefully the medical and healing establishment will begin to make this connection more and more.  When we are faced with health challenges in our life, there is a somatic component.  Often the somatic component is precipitated by the emotional experiences that we have faced in our past or that led up to the display of the health condition we are facing.  Regardless of how we look at this, the far reaching effects of studies such as ACE go beyond the current analysis. It is not just adverse childhood experiences that affect us somatically, but all the experiences that we face each day in our life.  Of course, the higher our ACE score is, the more these will impact the everyday experiences of our current life and add to the physical health conditions we experience.


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