Rethinking the Link Between Childhood Trauma and Chronic Health Problems

The XX Factor
What Women Really Think
March 14 2011 12:45 PM

Rethinking the Link Between Childhood Trauma and Chronic Health Problems

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While you are pondering Slate 's Hive project in which readers submit their own plans to reduce childhood obesity, please take a look at this fantastic New Yorker profile of Dr. Nadine Burke (unfortunately subscription-only). Burke is the medical director of the Bayview Child Health Center, which services a very poor section of San Francisco. She has done research that shows that there is a correlation between traumatic situations-known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)-and chronic health problems ranging from depression and obesity to cancer and heart disease. As Burke puts it, "In many cases, what looks like a social situation is actually a neurochemical situation."
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To combat the effects of these ACEs Burke is working to create a treatment protocol, like the ones oncologists use to treat cancer. For anyone who believes that problems like childhood obesity are purely a matter of choice and behavior, The New Yorker article may make you reassess.

Jessica Grose is a frequent Slate contributor and the author of the novel Sad Desk Salad. Follow her on Twitter.

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