Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

What are ACEs?

Trauma can change the course of a person’s mental and physical health and wellbeing. While we know Adverse Childhood Experiences affect mental and emotional health, studies show that stress and trauma can also manifest in physical ways – anything from chronic diseases to a shorter lifespan. The largest study to date that made this connection is the original ACE study conducted from 1995-1997 at Kaiser Permanente, a large health care company. The study found that childhood abuse, neglect, and household challenges can significantly impact later-life health and wellness.

This impact makes trauma a public health issue, and we are here to promote awareness and help connect people to resources to heal after these types of experiences, and to try and prevent it whenever possible. Preventing traumatic experiences in childhood and initiating key interventions when they do occur can lessen long-term health consequences and benefit the physical and emotional well-being of individuals into adulthood.

Learning More About ACEs

Want to dig even deeper into ACEs? Watch this video for a great explanation of ACEs and the original ACE study.

Learning More About ACEs

Want to dig even deeper into ACEs? Watch this video for a great explanation of ACEs and the original ACE study.

Take the ACEs Quiz

The ACEs quiz asks 10 questions about early traumatic experiences in order to determine how likely a person is to face certain health problems later in life.

ACEs in Ottawa County

Local data collected in Ottawa County during the 2017 Community Health Needs Assessment process shows the average Ottawa County ACEs scores and how common ACEs are compared to the nationwide average (collected from 2011–2014) and the Michigan average (collected in 2016). By analyzing the data, we are also able to see the long-term impact of ACEs on people’s lives.

How Common Are ACEs?

Emotional Abuse

  • Ottawa County 29.6% 29.6%
  • Michigan 39% 39%
  • United States 35% 35%

Physical Abuse

  • Ottawa County 14.6% 14.6%
  • Michigan 18% 18%
  • United States 15.9% 15.9%

Sexual Abuse

  • Ottawa County 7.8% 7.8%
  • Michigan 16% 16%
  • United States 10.9% 10.9%

Household Substance Abuse

  • Ottawa County 19.5% 19.5%
  • Michigan 29% 29%
  • United States 25.1% 25.1%

Separated or Divorced Parents

  • Ottawa County 22% 22%
  • Michigan 27% 27%
  • United States 22.8% 22.8%

Household Mental Illness

  • Ottawa County 17.5% 17.5%
  • Michigan 20% 20%
  • United States 15.9% 15.9%

Intimate Partner Violence

  • Ottawa County 12.8% 12.8%
  • Michigan 19% 19%
  • United States 14.6% 14.6%

Incarcerated Household Member

  • Ottawa County 7.9% 7.9%
  • Michigan 9% 9%
  • United States 5.7% 5.7%

Number of ACEs Reported

Ottawa County

%

Zero

%

One to Three

%

Four or More

Michigan

%

Zero

%

One to Three

%

Four or More

United States

%

Zero

%

One to Three

%

Four or More

The Impact of ACEs in Ottawa County

For those who participated in the Ottawa County study, the higher the ACE score, the more likely that person is to experience the following negative outcomes. The data shown in this section was collected during the 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment process and therefore are more up-to-date than the previous section.

Obesity

  • Zero ACEs 29% 29%
  • One to Three ACEs 36.9% 36.9%
  • Four or More ACEs 39.7% 39.7%

Chronic Pain

  • Zero ACEs 25.3% 25.3%
  • One to Three ACEs 31.9% 31.9%
  • Four or More ACEs 43.3% 43.3%

Anxiety

  • Zero ACEs 9.4% 9.4%
  • One to Three ACEs 25.1% 25.1%
  • Four or More ACEs 41.2% 41.2%

Poor Physical Health

  • Zero ACEs 5.1% 5.1%
  • One to Three ACEs 9% 9%
  • Four or More ACEs 15.7% 15.7%

Depression

  • Zero ACEs 8.5% 8.5%
  • One to Three ACEs 20.6% 20.6%
  • Four or More ACEs 44.5% 44.5%

Smoking

  • Zero ACEs 8.4% 8.4%
  • One to Three ACEs 14.5% 14.5%
  • Four or More ACEs 23.8% 23.8%

Binge Drinking

  • Zero ACEs 13.4% 13.4%
  • One to Three ACEs 17.4% 17.4%
  • Four or More ACEs 21.1% 21.1%

Suicidal Thoughts

  • Zero ACEs 0.5% 0.5%
  • One to Three ACEs 4.1% 4.1%
  • Four or More ACEs 13.6% 13.6%

Percentage of Survey Respondents Who Reported 4 or More ACEs

Gender

  • Male 19.8% 19.8%
  • Female 25.8% 25.8%

Race

  • White 21.2% 21.2%
  • Non-White 32.6% 32.6%

Poverty

  • Below Poverty Line 32.4% 32.4%
  • Above Poverty Line 22.4% 22.4%

Education

  • Some High School 33.9% 33.9%
  • High School Grad 27.8% 27.8%
  • Some College 28.6% 28.6%
  • College Grad 13% 13%

Income

  • Less than $20K 31.9% 31.9%
  • $20K – $34K 28.3% 28.3%
  • $35K – $49K 23.9% 23.9%
  • $50K – $74K 26.6% 26.6%
  • More than $75K 18% 18%

Helpful ACEs Links

There’s more you can learn about ACEs and Resilience at the links below. The ACEs Connection provides articles, groups, and other support regarding ACEs and Resilience. The CDC has more in-depth data, facts, and articles about the effect of ACEs.

This Isn’t the End of the Story

If you’re feeling discouraged about all this ACEs data, we encourage you to learn more about resilience. Resilience is what helps anyone who’s experienced trauma grow and learn to lead healthy and happy lives.

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