The Importance of Screening for ACEs by Pediatricians

As part of our Right From the Start NJ programming, Steve Adubato goes on-location to the "Overcoming Childhood Adversity and Trauma: A Healthier Future for NJ Kids" event to speak with Dr. Nadine Burke Harris, Founder & CEO, Center for Youth Wellness, about the importance of screening for ACEs (Adverse Childhood Experiences) in a primary care setting in order to prevent more problems later in life.

12/12/18 #2184






"We are honored to be joined, all the way from San Francisco, a compelling author, a pediatrician, an entrepreneur someone who's making a huge difference in the lives of so many children across this country, she is Doctor Nadine Burke Harris, the author of a compelling book called The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. Good to see you Doctor. It's very nice to meet you. Thank you. Doctor, let me ask you this. This book, your message. You gave a TED talk back in... it was released in '15? Mm hmm. You got a lot of reaction and response to it. You wrote this book about adverse childhood trauma, if you will? Mm hmm. What have you seen as a pediatrician? I've seen a lot. I have seen a... you know, the reason I wrote the book, it's because for many children, kids were being referred to me saying, you know, "Please, I think they've got ADHD, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. He needs Ritalin. Can you put him on some medicine?" And as a doctor, when I investigated how early adversity affects the developing brains and bodies of children, what I found was that for most of the kids I was seeing, Ritalin actually wasn't the right prescription. And it was really a result of what they were... their body's normal reaction to the abnormal experiences that they were dealing with. Things like domestic violence, or having a parent who's mentally ill or substance dependent, these things that are common, but they are really harmful for kid's development and well-being. Short and long-term for these children? Yes. That's absolutely right. Talk about that, because some of your colleagues have talked about, and they kept referring to, your keynote. And you would be the one to be able to explain this. But short-term, there's obvious... well, I shouldn't say obvious. There are certain effects, but long-term... you're talking about heart disease, you're talking about cancer, and that was shocking to me that there's a correlation. There is? Yeah. So I... understanding that when we talk about the effects of early adversity, I think for a lot of us, it makes common sense that if you have a rough childhood you may be more likely to, you know, drink and smoke, or have, you know, end up with depression or other mental health or behavioral conditions. I think the thing about this research from the CDC and Kaiser Permanente, showing that high levels of adverse childhood experiences can double your..."