Rethinking the Link Between Childhood Trauma and Chronic Health Problems

What Women Really Think
March 14 2011 12:45 PM

Rethinking the Link Between Childhood Trauma and Chronic Health Problems

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.