National Clearinghouse on Homeless Youth and Families

The Effects of Childhood Stress on Health Across the Lifespan

Middlebrooks, J. S.,
Audage, N. C.
Year Published: 2008
Fact Sheet
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)
Centers for Disease Control (CDC)

In this report, the authors summarize the research on childhood stress and its implications for adult health and well-being. They focus on outcomes associated with the toxic stress caused by child abuse, neglect, and repeated exposure to intimate partner violence (IPV). The authors start with a brief review of the effects of toxic stress on brain development in early childhood and on adult health and well-being. Then they highlight findings from the Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study demonstrating that (1) childhood abuse, neglect, and exposure to IPV and other adverse experiences are common, and (2) these violence-related stressors are linked to a number of risky behaviors and health problems in adolescence and adulthood. The authors discuss the implications of the findings for child maltreatment intervention at the individual, relationship, and community levels.

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