Positive childhood experiences are important for positive long-term health, according to a new study.
After their investigation, researchers from the Brigham Young University (BYU) found a strong link between the number of adverse childhood events, like divorce or death, and negative health outcomes later on in life.Instead, having trustworthy neighbours and teachers can protect against harmful health effects due to negative childhood experiences.
"If your child has experienced trauma and you're worried about the long-term impact it could have on them, these findings show that the positive experiences in childhood lead to better adult physical and mental health, no matter what they have faced," Professor Ali Crandall, assistant professor of public health at BYU, told a news portal.
Having a high number of advantageous childhood experiences (Counter-ACEs) reduced the negative effect of adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) even in adults who suffered from more than four ACEs. This is significant because an ACEs study conduced in 1998 concluded that having four or more ACEs in childhood increased the risk of negative health outcomes like depression and serious chronic health issues.
For the study conducted by BYU, participants reported the number of ACEs and Counter-ACEs they experienced as children.
*Adverse childhood experiences ( ACEs) include:
-Have a relative in prison
-Mental health issues
*Advantageous childhood experiences (Counter-ACEs) include:
- Have good friends and neighbours
- Have comforting beliefs
- Like school
- Have caring teachers
- Feel safe with the caregiver
- Have plenty of opportunities to have fun experiences
- Feeling comfortable with yourself
- Have a good home routine like regular bedtimes and meals
The data showed 75 per cent of participants reported one adverse childhood experience. Meanwhile, the average amount of ACEs was least 2.67 per person. Researchers also found the average positive experience score was 8.15. Only 39 per cent of people experienced all 10 ofCounter-ACEs. The team also made not of each participant's current health conditions by taking measures like BMI, nutrition intake, fitness, smoking habits, and sleep quality. They also tested their cognitive skills.
"As bad as ACEs may be, the absence of these positive childhood experiences and relationships may actually be more detrimental to lifelong health so we need more focus on increasing the positive," Crandall told a news portal.
Even though the childhood experiences were largely affected by what went on in the family, Crandall told a news portal "other adults in a child's life that are not the parent, like extended family, teachers, neighbors, friends and youth leaders all help to increase the number of counter ACEs and boosts lifelong health."
Crandall believes having more positive childhood experiences in the home can help make a difference in the community and have better health outcomes long-term for more people.
The study's findings were originally published in the journal Child Abuse & Neglect.
Picture Courtesy: Google Images