$4.8 Million Research Grant to Find Missing Link for Childhood Adversity

The Center for Youth Wellness announced today a $4.8 million grant from the Tara Health Foundation to fund a research project from the Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health that hopes to better understand the link between childhood trauma and health outcomes.

The Bay Area Research Consortium on Toxic Stress and Health is a collaboration between Center for Youth Wellness (CYW), the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) and the UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. CYW has been a leading force in developing procedures designed to address the potent effects of childhood adversity at its clinic in San Francisco as well as in advocating for policies around child trauma.

The three-and-a-half year research project will involve collecting, analyzing and disseminating data on children ages 0 to 12 who have experienced adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). The project is currently in the planning phase and will start in 2016.

ACEs are traumatic childhood events, such as maltreatment and neglect, parental mental health issues or the incarceration of a parent or guardian. A landmark 1998 study by Kaiser Permanente and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention established the association between ACEs and the development of serious health problems later in life. Study participants answered questions about their experiences of trauma and adversity in childhood, and those responses were matched with current health information.

Monica Bucci, director of research at the Center for Youth Wellness

Monica Bucci, director of research at the Center for Youth Wellness

The new ACEs research hopes to better understand this association in a pediatric setting and to find interventions that will help support children who have experienced trauma, according to Monica Bucci, the director of research at the Center for Youth Wellness and one of the project’s principal investigators.

“We can understand and create the preliminary data that can be useful for further studies on a bigger scale that will involve understanding health outcomes in the population that is experiencing childhood adversity,” Bucci said.

Bucci hopes that the project will build a better knowledge base about the impact of toxic stress during childhood.

“At the moment, no one is publishing on this,” Bucci said. “We’re aiming to create the science that will back up the missing link between the exposure to adverse childhood experiences and health outcomes.”

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