Toxic Stress, Trauma, Adverse Childhood Experiences and Resilience
Trauma and adversity [including historical trauma, racism, adverse childhood experiences (ACEs), and adverse peer, school, and/or adult experiences] can create toxic stress. Toxic stress influences the biology of health and development, and may manifest in multiple mental, physical, relational, and productivity problems throughout the lifespan. Early childhood is a critical period when adversity and trauma can create toxic stress and interrupt normal brain development.
Individuals with multiple ACEs have higher rates of developmental delays and other problems in childhood, as well as adult health conditions such as smoking, alcoholism, depression, suicide, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, disability, and premature mortality.
Protective factors, at both the individual and community level, can build resilience and buffer the effects of adversity and trauma. Resilience can be enhanced by healthy relationships in early childhood, meaningful relationships for children and adolescents, and strong social support (i.e., connection to other people, community and culture) for adults. A public health response to trauma and adversity addresses systemic causes such as racism, discrimination, and structural inequities to prevent adversity and reduce toxic stress. It also promotes safe, stable, and nurturing relationships and environments that build resilience in individuals, families and communities.
State Performance Measure
Percentage of new mothers who experienced stressful life events before or during pregnancy