Black health issues

Pentagon Admitted to Using Black Soldiers as Human Guinea Pigs in WWII

By David Love – June 24, 2015

Pentagon Guinea pigs

Black enlisted men were used as human guinea pigs in chemical experiments during World War II—not by Nazi Germany, but by Uncle Sam.

As was reported by NPR, 60,000 American soldiers were enrolled in a secret chemical weapons testing program in which they were exposed to mustard gas and the chemical agent lewisite, which causes lung irritation and blisters. Moreover, the U.S. Department of Defense conducted the tests based on the race of the soldiers. Black, Japanese-American and Puerto Rican soldiers were locked in a gas chamber and exposed to the chemicals. White soldiers were used as the control group.

“They said we were being tested to see what effect these gases would have on Black skins,” said Rollins Edwards, 93, of Summerville, S.C. “You had no choice. You did not know where you were going. They didn’t tell you anything.”

Edwards says his skin still falls off in flakes as a result of the testing. For years, the World War II veteran carried around a jar full of flakes to convince people that something had happened to him.

Although the Pentagon had admitted as early as 1991 that the Army tested mustard gas on enlisted soldiers during World War II—and the experiment program was officially declassified in 1993—news about the racial targeting of soldiers was kept under wraps until recently.

This revelation that the Army tested chemical weapons on soldiers of color is both troubling and an outrage, but the concept of Black people being used in medical and other experiments is by no means a new phenomenon. There are numerous examples of Black people being used as guinea pigs in unethical medical experiments. Perhaps the most well-known example is the Tuskegee experiment, in which the Tuskegee Institute and the U.S. Public Health Service studied the natural progression of syphilis in 600 Black men, who were never notified of their condition and were not treated. The tests, which began in 1932, did not end until news reports exposed the inhumane and racist practice in 1972.

But there are other cases beyond Tuskegee. For example, in the early 1800s, Sara Baartman, or “Hottentot Venus,” one of two KhoiKhoi women made into freak show attractions in Europe, was subjected to medical experiments. And modern gynecology was the result of torturous gynecological experiments that J. Marion Sims performed on enslaved women without anesthesia.

Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR
Rollins Edwards, who lives in Summerville, S.C., shows one of his many scars from exposure to mustard gas in World War II military experiments. More than 70 years after the exposure, his skin still falls off in flakes. For years, he carried around a jar full of the flakes to try to convince people of what happened to him. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR

At the turn of the century, the U.S. Public Health Service conducted experiments on Black prisoners suffering from pellagra, which is a B-13 or niacin deficiency leading to sensitivity to sunlight skin lesions, dementia and death. In 1945, 53-year-old truck driver, Ebb Cabe, was injected with plutonium by the U.S. Atomic Agency after he was taken to the hospital and kept there for six months following a car accident. Cabe received 40 times the amount of plutonium—the key ingredient for a nuclear bomb—a typical person is exposed to over the course of a lifetime. He died eight years later of heart failure.

During the 1950s, the CIA and the U.S. military released half a million mosquitoes with yellow and dengue fever into Black Florida communities, leading to multiple illnesses and deaths. The government wanted to assess the use of mosquitoes as military weapons. Also in that decade, Henrietta Lacks became the first test subject on cloning, without her knowledge or permission, with 20 tons of her cells grown since her death.

During the 1950s and 1960s, poor Black St. Louis neighborhoods were used in Cold War experiments in which the Army, using aerosol blowers mounted on vehicles and rooftops, sprayed a radiation-laced toxin called zinc cadmium sulfide, a fluorescent powder. Thousands likely inhaled the toxins.

In the 1990s, children in Los Angeles were injected with an experimental measles vaccine unapproved by the FDA, and one which had developed a bad reputation for increasing high death rates in Haiti, Guinea Bissau and Senegal.

Between 2006 and 2010, 148 female prisoners in two California prisons—the majority Black and Latino— were sterilized without their consent. Meanwhile, Israel subjected African immigrant women to mandatory contraceptive injections of Depo-Provera, leading to a 20 percent birth rate decline for Ethiopian Israelis.

In 2000, federally funded researchers placed sludge from a sewage treatment plant on lawns and vacant lots in Baltimore and East St. Louis. The communities were told the toxic waste was safe. And in 2012, at least 500 children in Chad were given MenAfriVac—whose side effects include convulsions and paralysis— without notification or parental consent.

Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR
Rollins Edwards as a young soldier in 1945 at Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Source: AMELIA PHILLIPS HALE FOR NPR

In addition, the CDC hid evidence that Black babies had more than triple the chance of developing autism if they were given an experimental measles vaccine before the age of three.

For years, the Black community has warned of conspiracies against their communities, and were told they were neurotic and imagining things. But as the latest news from the Pentagon shows us, these conspiracies are not theories but reality.

The Secret to Keeping Black Men Healthy? Maybe Black Doctors

In an intriguing study, black patients were far more likely to agree to certain health tests if they discussed them with a black male doctor.

Dr. ChaRandle Jordan was one of the doctors who participated in the study. “It’s something they don’t teach you in medical school — taking that extra step because you appreciate there have been barriers in the past,” he said. 

Black men have the lowest life expectancy of any ethnic group in the United States. Much of the gap is explained by greater rates of chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart disease, which afflict poor and poorly educated black men in particular.

But why is that? Lack of insurance? Lack of access to health care?

Now, a group of researchers in California has demonstrated that another powerful force may be at work: a lack of black physicians.

In the study, black men seeing black male doctors were much more likely to agree to certain preventive measures than were black men seeing doctors who were white or Asian.

Although 13 percent of the population is black in the United States, just 4 percent of doctors are black.

The study, published in June by the National Bureau for Economic Research, involved 702 black men in Oakland, Calif., who came to a clinic for a free health screening. They were randomly assigned to a black male doctor or one who was white or Asian.

Neither the men nor the doctors knew that the purpose of the study was to ask if a doctor’s race mattered when he or she advised these patients. As it turned out, the racial effects were not subtle.

Diabetes screening was part of the health check, and 63 percent of the black men assigned to a black doctor agreed to the screening. But just 43 percent of those assigned to a doctor who was white or Asian consented to be screened.

Some 62 percent of black men with a black doctor agreed to cholesterol tests, compared to 36 percent assigned to a doctor who was not black.

“If their first reaction is, ‘No, I’m not interested in that,’ you must explore why they said no and address those concerns.”

Dr. ChaRandle Jordan

Previous studies have been observational — mostly searching earlier data for trends, a substantially weaker form of evidence — and their results mixed.

“It changed the way I think,” said Jonathan Skinner, a health care economist at Dartmouth College, about the new results. “This study convinced me that the effects are real.”

The researchers employed minority premedical students to recruit participants by visiting 20 barbershops and two flea markets in Oakland, offering black men vouchers for a free health screening.

The screening was at a clinic set up by the investigators and staffed by 14 black and nonblack doctors. The men were offered preventive measures like flu shots and screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol and diabetes.

The men who came to the clinic offered equal praise for their black, white and Asian doctors. But the patients were far more likely to consent to preventive care — screenings and vaccinations — when their doctor was also black.

If black patients were to agree to this preventive care at these rates in the real world, the gap in cardiovascular mortality between black men and the rest of the population could be reduced by 20 percent, the researchers estimated.

“I don’t think I have ever had such a strong result, so unambiguous,” said Dr. Marcella Alsan, an associate professor of medicine at Stanford University and an author of the study.

Why would black doctors have such an effect? Perhaps they used more nonverbal cues to communicate empathy, said Dr. Amber E. Barnato, a professor of medicine and health care delivery at Dartmouth College.

In another small study, she used black and white actors to study white doctors’ interactions with patients at the end of life. Although the doctors said similar things to both black and white actors posing as patients, they stood closer to the white patients, made more eye contact, and touched them more often.

In the new study, Dr. Alsan and her colleagues did not record patient visits. But some hints of the differences could be seen in comments the patients and doctors wrote in evaluations of their experiences.

The white and Asian doctors often wrote comments like “weight loss,” “tb test” and “anxiety” — cryptic notations that referred to medical recommendations.

The black doctors often left more personal notes, like “needs food, shelter, clothing, job, ‘flu shot makes you sick,’ he got one.” And “subject yelled at me but then agreed to get flu shot because I recommended it.” And “made patient laugh.”

Black men who saw white doctors wrote comments like, “It was a great and fast experience, doctor was great as well.” And “very informative, very appreciated.”

Those who saw black doctors wrote comments like, “The entire day made me feel very comfortable and relaxed” and “cool doctor” — comments that described an emotional response.

Bridging this racial divide is a fraught matter, noted Dr. Skinner.

“It doesn’t seem so controversial if a woman requests a woman physician,” he said. “If a black patient asks for a black doctor, it’s understandable, especially given this study. But what if a white patient asks for a white doctor?”

A white doctor in this study, who asked that his name be withheld because he has black patients, said he felt his interactions with those who came to the clinic were “normal, comfortable health care visits.” Still, he was not surprised to hear the study’s results.

“Anyone going to see a doctor will be nervous,” he said. “If you face discrimination regularly in life, you will go into a clinic with even more apprehensions. If you see a physician who is African-American, you will feel some relief.”

One of the black doctors who participated in the study, Dr. ChaRandle Jordan, noted that low-income black patients in Oakland tend to be guarded in the doctor’s office.

“When you go into the room, you have to ask them about themselves, establish a rapport with them,” he said. “If their first reaction is, ‘No, I’m not interested in that,’ you must explore why they said no and address those concerns.”

“They might say, ‘Each time my mother had it, she would get the flu,’” he said of patients considering flu shots. “You say, ‘How about you try it this time? I bet you won’t get the flu or it will be less severe.’ You are joking a little bit.”

“It’s something they don’t teach you in medical school — taking that extra step because you appreciate there have been barriers in the past,” Dr. Jordan added.

White doctors can reach out just as well, Dr. Jordan said, adding that a lot depends on how familiar a doctor is with black patients.

Could white doctors have more success with black patients if they carefully watched what black doctors do? “Maybe, maybe not,” said David Cutler, a professor of applied economics at Harvard University.

But now that the researchers showed that a doctor’s race can really matter to his or her patients, he said, the medical profession should take heed.

“The magnitude of the effect is so huge, how can you ignore it?” Dr. Cutler asked.


“Time for an Awakening” with Bro. Elliott 7/15/18 guest Dr. Carlton Payne

“Time For An Awakening” for Sunday 7/15/2018 at 7:00 PM, our guest was Psychotherapist, Author, Professor, Dr. Carlton Payne. The discussion centered around violence in the black community, and solutions to move our people forward.

Study shows hair care products targeted to black community contain harmful chemicals

Certain hair products — many of which are used on black girls from birth to help straighten their hair — have been linked to such health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.

Certain hair products — many of which are used on black girls from birth to help straighten their hair — have been linked to such health issues such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and breast cancer.


Hair products that for years have been targeted at the African American community may be causing health problems for its customers.

Researchers at the Silent Spring Institute, working with epidemiologist Tamarra James-Todd at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, measured the concentrations of chemicals in 18 of these products. What they found was that each product contained four to 30 types of chemicals.

Many of the products contained fragrances with phthalates, which have been linked to obesity and increased risk of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, pre-term birth, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes, says James-Todd.

James-Todd says that after Native Americans, black women have the highest prevalence of diabetes in the US. She says they also have the highest proportion of pre-term births and are more likely to be overweight or obese.

“When you’re thinking about a lot of these metabolic or reproductive health outcomes, it’s really important to consider why that might be occurring and not simply attribute it to, ‘Oh, there must be some inherent underlying genetic differences,’” she says.

James-Todd, who is African American, says women in the black community have for decades felt social and cultural pressures “regarding what is seen as beautiful, with straight long hair being kind of the stamp of beauty,” especially in Western culture.

“And so, people will do different things to try to adhere to that standard of beauty,” she says.

What the majority of the public does not know, she says, is that currently there are no laws that require personal care product companies to disclose all of the substances that are going into their products, due to trademark agreements. There is movement in the US Senate to enact the Personal Care Product and Safety Act, which would develop a protocol by which products are tested before being placed on store shelves.

“We’re completely relying on the companies to test for the safety of our products,” James-Todd says. “That seems like a conflict of interest. The company is trying to make a profit … [even though] the average consumer thinks that if it’s on the shelf, it’s safe.”

Seeing the connections

James-Todd became interested in the topic of what chemicals go into hair products while a master’s student at Boston University. She read about a study that compared a magazine advertisement for an anti-aging cream in Ladies’ Home Journal, a publication targeting white women, versus an ad for a placenta-based product  — sheep placenta has become a mainstay ingredient in lots of leave-in conditioners — in Essence magazine, which targets black women.

“I’d walk into a black hair supply or hair care store, and see placenta and just wonder, what exactly is that for? Why are people using that?” she says. “Around that same time, an issue of Time magazine had come out, querying why were girls starting their periods earlier and earlier. And somehow that just kind of clicked for me.”

Shortly thereafter, there was a large study done that reported that 60 percent of black girls had reached their period by age 12, compared to about half of that for white girls.

“As a master’s student, that piqued my interest,” James-Todd says.

When she was working on his doctoral degree at Columbia University, James-Todd led a study around hair products being used in the greater New York metro area. The results backed up her theory: More girls were using hair oils for a longer period of time and those girls were much more likely to have their period earlier, which can significantly increase the likelihood of breast cancer.

Another study that served as inspiration, James-Todd says, was one in which four African American girls, ranging from four months to four years of age, showed they had all been developing breast and pubic hair — all of whom had mothers who were using hair oils and different types of products on them. An independent laboratory test confirmed that there were three types of estrogen found within the collection of products being used.

James-Todd says it is now known that about 50 percent of the products marketed to black women contain these controversial chemicals, compared to only about seven percent of products targeted to white women.

When James-Todd was conducting the hair products study in New York, several men would approach her and ask if they could take part as well. At the time, she was focused on breast cancer relating to women.

“It was kind of an ‘aha’ moment and so the reality is that black men are using these products, too,” she says. “Oftentimes, they wear shorter hairstyles and so if you think about it, the application of some of these products is that much more close to the scalp and absorbed through the scalp, and could have some similar health implications for diseases that are linked to some of these endocrine-disrupting chemicals.”

James-Todd has let her own natural hair be as curly as it wants to be ever since she was a girl growing up in Tennessee and saw her hair fall out after having a perm. She remembers, though, being an undergraduate student at Vanderbilt University and getting judgmental looks from fellow black women for choosing to not straighten her hair. Many thought she was from a different country.

“If I was American, I would not wear my hair this way,” she says of their collective thoughts. “And it’s been beautiful to see people embracing their hair. I am fragrance-free. I’ve been using the same product now for the past 30-plus years. Thank goodness it’s still on the market.”

James-Todd also uses the same product on her young daughter. She is a proponent of minimizing the amount of hair products one uses.

“As far as advocating for other women, I understand that some people don’t feel as comfortable doing that, or they think that it’ll affect their job or other issues,” she says. “But I think as society changes its standards of beauty, it’s been nice to see that being embraced.”


Melanin Under Attack: Study Shows How Toxic Hair Products Are To Black Women


Melanated women have overcome crazy obstacles despite the growing list of things that threaten their health, livelihood and overall well-being.

One of the things on that list includes hair care products: the everyday items used by Black women to smooth strands, lay edges, and moisturize manes. Studies have blown the lid wide open on the toxic chemicals in those products and linked them with illnesses. However, one new Silent Spring Institute study is the first to measure how much of those chemicals are present in Black hair care products.

Black women are routinely over-exposed and under-protected from toxic chemicals, which cause problems affecting the body’s hormones and its endocrine system. Yes, this exposure has spurred large health disparities among African-American women and other racial groups.

How these chemicals keep being used in products is beyond insane. The chemical usage also shows that fattening cosmetic industry profit margins sometimes comes at the expense of Black health.

The problems with these chemically laden products start upon their manufacturing. The items on shelves in drugstores and more places are mostly untested and rarely regulated, Jessica Helm, PhD, a Silent Spring scientist and the study’s lead author, said. Also, a lot of manufacturers don’t include a full product ingredients list.

What Researchers Did

Researchers looked at 18 products — hot oil treatments, anti-frizz hair polishes, leave-in conditioners, root stimulators, hair lotions, and hair relaxers — chosen as popular among surveyed Black women. Brands included Lusters, PCJ and Soft & Beautiful.

The researchers connected the dots between 66 chemicals and health problems affecting Black women, who have higher rates of hormone-mediated problems including pre-term birth, uterine fibroids and infertility than other racial groups. Black women also suffer from increased rates of breast and endometrial cancers as well as maternal-related deaths.

What Researchers Found

Forty-five endocrine disruptors were detected by researchers in Black hair care products, with between 6 and 30 chemicals in each product. Another startling find? Eleven products had seven chemicals banned by the European Union or regulated under California’s Proposition 65, commonly known as the Safe Drinking Water and Toxic Enforcement Act of 1986.

A lot of these chemicals are found in everyday personal care items marketed to women but are found in higher concentrations in products for Black women. Also, Black women buy and use more hair items than other groups.

What Researchers Hope Will Happen

The study gives insight into the thinking that drives the cosmetic industry and its attack on Black health and Black pride. How can women fight back?

Demanding safer products and more disclosure about ingredients is a big step, researchers said. Women can also choose “paraben-free” or “fragrance-free” products as well as ones that are plant-based or made with organic ingredients. It’s clear that it’s time to stand up and boycott these health threats.


EPA Report Proves That Black Communities More Likely to Breathe Toxic Air

People of color have a 35 percent higher chance of living near emission polluting facilities than their White counterparts—and the number is higher for Black residents.

A new report released by scientists from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) confirms that environmental racism continues to endanger the lives of Black people across the United States.

The study, “Disparities in Distribution of Particulate Matter Emission Sources by Race and Poverty Status,” was released yesterday (February 22) in the American Journal of Public Health. It was authored by scientists affiliated with the National Center for Environmental Assessment, which is housed in the EPA’s Office of Research and Development.

By examining facilities across the country that emit pollution, the study looked to calculate the burden of these emissions on groups according to economic level, race and ethnicity. The findings show that “those in poverty had 1.35 times higher burden than did the overall population, and non-Whites had 1.28 times higher burden. Blacks, specifically, had 1.54 times higher burden than did the overall population.” This translates to a 54 percent increase for Black people.

In response to the report, Leslie Fields, director of Sierra Club’s environmental justice program, said in statement, “This report illustrates how people of color and people with limited means have been grossly taken advantage of by polluters who don’t care about the misery they cause.”

This and other studies show that inhaling particulate matter—which is more likely for residents of neighborhoods with polluting facilities—leads to higher rates of asthma, heart attacks and lowered life expectancy rates. “The disadvantages that come with those health issues, like missing school, create a cycle of poverty and lack of access to opportunity that spans generations and shapes every part of the experience of being a person of color or low-income person in the United States,” says Fields.

Environmental racism is the term that explains the systemic structures that place disproportionate environmental burdens and hazards on people based on race and ethnicity. As Colorlines has previously reported, it has been called the new Jim Crow and continues to target Black, Latinx, Native, Asian and other communities of color, subjecting them to generations of poor health outcomes. In addition, a joint study from November 2017 by the National Association for the Advancement of Colored PeopleClean Air Task Force and National Medical Association found that the air Black Americans breathe is nearly 40 percent more polluted than that of their White counterparts.



“Proof of Consciousness” (P.O.C.) the Host of REVIVE Radio!!! 02/14/2018

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This episode on REVIVE is entitled “Wednesday Edition” on REVIVE RADIO! Call in to REVIVE at 215-490-9832, you never know what may happen!


Melissa C. Beauchamp: A Fort Lauderdale Florida based photographer and fine artist. Founder of Mass Creatvty. Mass Creatvty is a business founded in 2012 by Melissa C. Beauchamp also known as Melissa Charyse. The name “Mass Creatvty” was created to encompass all that I am in the art field. I’m just a naturally creative person, so to label myself under one particular title would be unjust. I also wanted a name that represented the art industry in general. Anyone can be massively Creative, hence the absence of the letter ‘i’. It’s not just about me, it’s about art as a community, and as a culture.


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A salad a day keeps brains 11 YEARS younger, boosts memory and could help prevent dementia, new study suggests

  • Older adults who eat at least one serving of leafy greens or salad daily showed slower memory declines 
  • There was a difference of more than a decade of mental aging between those who ate salad and those that did not
  • The findings suggest that balanced diets are critical in preventing dementia in older people  

Eating greens or salad every day boosts our memory, according to new research.

 The findings suggest that eating about one serving per day of green, leafy vegetables may be linked to a slower rate of brain aging – the equivalent of keeping our brain 11 years younger.

The Rush University study found that people who ate at least one serving of green, leafy vegetables a day had a slower rate of decline on tests of memory and thinking skills than people who never or rarely ate such vegetables.

Salad eaters’ brains functioned as though they were more than a decade younger than those of people who did not eat their greens, according to the research team.

For older people, eating one salad a day was linked to slower mental decline in a new study 

Study author Professor Martha Clare Morris, of Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, said: ‘Adding a daily serving of green, leafy vegetables to your diet may be a simple way to foster your brain health.

‘Projections show sharp increases in the percentage of people with dementia as the oldest age groups continue to grow in number, so effective strategies to prevent dementia are critical,’ she said.

The study, published online by the journal Neurology, involved 960 people with an average age of 81 who did not have dementia and were followed for an average of 4.7 years.

The participants completed a questionnaire about how often they ate certain foods and had their thinking and memory skills tested yearly during that time.

The survey asked how often and how many servings they ate of three green, leafy vegetables: spinach, with a serving being a half cup of cooked spinach; kale, collards or greens, half cup cooked; and lettuce salad, with a serving of one cup raw.

The participants were divided into five equal groups based on how often they ate green, leafy vegetables.

The people in the top serving group ate an average of about 1.3 servings of greens per day. Those in the lowest serving group ate on average 0.1 servings per day.

Overall, the participants’ scores on the thinking and memory tests declined over time at a rate of 0.08 standardized units per year.

Over 10 years of follow-up, the rate of decline for those who ate the most leafy greens was slower by 0.05 standardized units per year than the rate for those who ate the least leafy greens.

That is the difference of about 11 years worth of change, according to the study authors.

They said the results remained valid after accounting for other factors that could affect brain health such as smoking, high blood pressure, obesity, education level and amount of physical and cognitive activities.

But Professor Morris noted that the study doesn’t prove that eating green, leafy vegetables slows brain aging, it only shows an association.

Study: High Stress and Adversity Negatively Affect the Developing Brains and Bodies of Young Children

Study findings indicate that children who suffer traumatic life experiences increase their risk of developing chronic illnesses like asthma and heart disease later in life. (Photo by Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

Nationally, nearly 25 percent of children aged 17 and under have experienced at least one traumatic event, whether it be physical abuse, neglect or living with a family member who has struggled with alcoholism or drug use, recent federal data shows.

Among Black youth, however, 30 percent have suffered a traumatic event, with another 35 percent suffering two or more adverse childhood experiences, also known as “ACEs.”

The stats are the findings of a state-by-state poll released last year from the 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health, a survey aimed at providing data on the health and well-being of children by studying factors that affect their physical and emotional health. This includes everything from access to health care, family interactions and neighborhood characteristics, according to the Health Resources & Services Administration, which helped fund the annual survey.

The data also offers an inside look at the rate of children and teens impacted by adverse events, which several studies have shown put them at higher risk for developing chronic ailments like heart disease, asthma and even depression. Now, public health proponents are hoping to use the findings to influence policies aimed at counteracting said traumatic childhood experiences.

“These numbers tell a story about what is happening nationally to children,” Martha Davis, senior program officer of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, which supports policies to combat childhood adversity, told The Washington Post. “They have implications for schools and families and communities and health care.”

According to the survey, nearly a quarter of youth in the United States have endured a traumatic event by the time they turned 18 years old. New York topped the list with an ACEs rate of 30.3 percent, while Arizona had the lowest rate at 19 percent. The top five states with the highest rates of childhood adversity were also located in the Northeast, Western and Southern regions of the United States.

The idea that such negative episodes can have a long-term impact has only recently been popularized, however, with the federal government first inquiring about them in the 2010/ 2011 survey, WaPo reported. The term “ACEs” gained steam after a 1998 landmark study from Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which found that traumatic childhood experiences were incredibly common and linked to poor health outcomes.

A growing body of research around brain science and biology has helped to explain this connection, showing just how high “doses” of stress, and adversity can negatively affect the developing brains and bodies of young children. Nearly two–thirds of those polled for the Kaiser study reported experiencing at least one traumatic childhood event. Compared to those who reported no trauma, participants who suffered four or more adverse events were twice as likely to be diagnosed with heart disease, six times as likely to suffer from depression and were more likely to engage in risky behaviors.

“I went to medical school; I never heard about this,” pediatrician Nadine Burke Harris said of the groundbreaking research. “When I did, I wanted to shout it from the rooftops.”

Harris now runs her own practice, the Center for Youth Wellness in San Francisco, Calif., where her staff utilizes a method that not only examines a patient’s medical history but their social history, too. Every child that walks through the center’s doors is screened for ACEs that might cause toxic stress and lead to chronic health issues in the future.

“We heal children’s brains and bodies by piloting treatments for toxic stress and sharing our findings nationally,” according to the Center. “We prevent toxic stress by raising awareness among those who can make a difference — from parents and pediatricians to policymakers. Our mission is to improve the health of children and adolescents exposed to [ACEs].”

Health advocates define adverse childhood events as stressful or traumatic episodes youth experience before age 18, including violence at home, substance abuse, neglect and living with a parent who has mental illness. Repeated or high exposure to said events without the preventative support of a loving adult can disrupt children’s stress response, making it that much harder to deal with toxic stress, research shows.

Like Harris, teachers, practitioners, the courts and others in the medical community have begun to adapt and respond to the startling research behind these adverse episodes. ACE Response, an organization born out of a partnership between Prevent Child Abuse America and the University at Albany (SUNY) School of Social Welfare suggests that ACE prevention begins with the integration of brain science and policy. For instance, Davis and colleagues over at the RWJF have pushed for policies to help counter childhood adversity, such as paid family leave, home visiting programs and other resources to give parents the time they need to better support their children.

Meanwhile, sites like ACE Response serve as an online resource connecting policymakers, program directors and researchers involved with the implementation of other ACE prevention measures in the United States and beyond. This way, both doctors and decision-makers have a common understanding on the ramifications of childhood trauma and the importance of buffering it.

Child health advocates in Iowa are now working to do just that. In 2011, the state began collecting ACEs data from within its borders, prompting leaders with Prevent Child Abuse–Iowa to launch the Connections Matter campaign, an initiative aimed at promoting the importance of care, trusting relationships and reducing the impact of childhood trauma. The goal, according to PCA-Iowa director Liz Cox, is to build “thriving communities that foster resilience and reduce the intergenerational transmission of abuse and neglect.”

While the idea that children should grow up in loving environments free from abuse and neglect is nothing new, the connection between childhood trauma and long-term health issues is. Now cities and states are working to keep kids healthy from the get-go.

In a piece for the National Resilience Institute, Cox cited the notable progress Washington state has made in decreasing childhood adversity, resulting in billions of dollars saved to its state budget, reduced high school dropout rates, teen pregnancy and even suicide attempts among children. She and other child advocates across the state are now pushing to achieve similar results by utilizing strategies to help foster conversations around ACEs, create policy centered on prevention and promote funding of evidence-based trauma intervention, such as after-school programs.

“Reducing ACEs requires collaborative [social] work further upstream in prevention,” Cox wrote. “Proportionate funding of evidence-based prevention, like parenting classes, sexual abuse prevention training for teachers, respite care, home visits and community capacity building — is an investment that strengthens families and reduces the demands on foster care systems.”

“Support from community foundations, corporations, and private donors can help leverage investments from the state and federal governments to create better access to prevention services for youth,” she added.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, or SAMHSA, has offered similar suggestions for buffering ACEs, which include keeping local decision-makers in the  loop on current state and county-level ACEs data and taking into account the primary risk and protective factors when mapping out prevention planning efforts. Like Harris, some family doctors have even started questioning patients on urban-related stressors, such as how safe their neighborhoods are or if they’ve witnessed any violence.

As research continues to grow around adverse childhood experiences, it’s hoped that efforts aimed at reducing childhood trauma will flourish as well.



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