The stress associated with adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has immediate and long-lasting effects. The objectives of this study were to examine (1) how often pediatricians ask patients’ families about ACEs, (2) how familiar pediatricians are with the original ACE study, and (3) physician/practice characteristics, physicians’ mental health training, and physicians’ attitudes/beliefs that are associated with asking about ACEs. The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study retrospectively examined the long-term impact of adverse experiences, such as childhood abuse, neglect and household dysfunction, and demonstrated that greater numbers of stressors experienced early in life were associated with later-in-life risk-taking and unhealthy lifestyles, as well as with disease. The data suggest that most pediatricians surveyed have never heard of the original ACE study and do not understand the epigenetic effects of adverse childhood experiences. Nevertheless, most believe that childhood stressors can have a negative impact on children, that pediatricians can help influence parenting, and that positive parenting can influence children’s trajectories. Even so, almost one-third of pediatricians in our sample do not usually ask about any ACEs, and only 4% ask about all of them, representing a missed opportunity to address familial issues that may have a large impact on children’s development, as well as both physical and mental health. Additional training on the importance of identifying ACEs in pediatric practices is essential to ensuring high-level care for all children.  Click here for full article

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