CDC: Childhood Trauma Is A Public Health Issue And We Can Do More Prevent It

Childhood trauma can lead to longterm health problems. More should be done to prevent it, says the CDC.

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Childhood trauma causes serious health repercussions throughout life and is a public health issue that calls for concerted prevention efforts. That’s the takeaway of a report published Tuesday from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Experiencing traumatic things as a child puts you at risk for lifelong health effects, according to a body of research. The CDC’s new report confirms this, finding that Americans who’d experienced adverse childhood experiences or ACEs, were at higher risk of dying from five of the top 10 leading causes of death.

And those who’d been through more bad experiences — such as abuse or neglect, witnessing violence at home or growing up in a family with mental health or substance abuse problems — were at an even higher risk.

One in six people across the United States has experienced four or more kinds of adverse childhood experiences, according to the report.

That’s why it’s important to prevent ACEs and lessen their impact on individuals, said the CDC’s principal deputy director, Dr. Anne Schuchat, at a teleconference Tuesday. “Preventing ACEs can help children and adults thrive and has the potential to substantially lower the risk for conditions like asthma, cancer, depressive disorder and diabetes,” she said.

The new report presents the CDC’s first estimate of how many Americans are affected by ACEs, as well as the potential benefits of preventing these kinds of traumas.

Using data from a survey of more than 144,000 adults from 25 states, the report found that about 60% of Americans experience at least one adverse experience during childhood. And 15.6% experienced four or more different types. Women, American Indian and Alaskan Natives, and African-Americans have a higher risk of experiencing four or more types of childhood traumas.

The effects add up. “The more types of ACEs a person has, the higher their risk for negative outcomes, which will limit their opportunities their whole life,” said Schuchat.

But these health outcomes are preventable, according to the report. Preventing childhood trauma could potentially prevent 1.9 million cases of coronary heart disease, the leading killer in this country. Similarly, it could prevent 2.5 million cases of obesity or overweight and 21 million cases of depression.

Trauma in childhood can also affect a person’s social well-being, Schuchat added. “ACEs also negatively affects life opportunities, like completing high school or future employment,” she said. “Preventing ACEs could have kept up to 1.5 million students from dropping out of school.”

Studies have shown that there are ways to prevent childhood trauma and mitigate its effects when it does happen. And the CDC has previously compiled a list of approaches proven to be effective.

The agency points to the need for efforts at every level: state, community, family and individual.

Schuchat noted that positive childhood experiences and relationships are known to buffer against the stress of trauma and strengthen resilience. “It might be a parent, it might be a teacher, it might be a neighbor, but having a stable, reliable person in your life can help you at that individual level with resilience,” said Schuchat. “That stability and nurturing will help you when you have a stress or a difficult problem [because you] have an outlet and a reliable way to process it and seek help if you need to.”

Mentoring programs that connect children with caring adults at school, or in the community, have been shown to support children through difficulties in their lives.

In fact, supportive, nurturing relationships and environments for both children and families are at the heart of prevention, according to the report, which describes six approaches to prevention. Those approaches include strengthening economic support for families, helping parents and youth better handle stress, as well as improved access to primary care to screen, identify and address childhood trauma when it occurs.

Physicians have an important role in mitigating the effects of childhood trauma, Schuchat noted. “Clinicians are busy and may or may not incorporate ACEs into their practice but we think it’s very important that they do.”

For example, pediatricians can screen parents and children for childhood trauma and practice trauma-informed care, so as to address the potential health impacts of trauma.

“There are various programs that can be used in primary care offices or [by] pediatricians,” said James Mercy, the director of CDC’s division of violence prevention, and an author of the new report. “These provide ways that these offices can organize their efforts around identifying and intervening around child maltreatment and other adversity.”

The Safe Environment for Every Kid (SEEK) model, for example, has been shown to be effective in giving clinicians tools to reduce child maltreatment, he said.

Everyone has a role to play in prevention, Schuchat said. “Parents, families, neighborhoods, schools, spiritual communities, businesses and government” can all help.

If you’re curious about how your own childhood experiences may affect your health, researchers have developed a series of questions to determine your risk levels.

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FTC Issues Rules For Disclosure Of Ads By Social Media Influencers

The FTC released rules on when and how social media influencers should disclose ads.

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Open up Instagram and there’s a big chance you’ll come across a post about an influencer’s experience with a new lotion or a fancy restaurant. At the very bottom of the post, there’s a hashtag, #ad, to divulge that you just read a paid endorsement.

That’s not enough, the Federal Trade Commission says, in a publication released Tuesday.

Disclosures 101 for Social Media Influencers” offers guidance for when and how influencers should disclose ads. According to the document, it is the responsibility of influencers to be transparent.

The FTC says these rules are needed to protect consumers from deceptive ads.

“Many consumers rely upon influencer recommendations in making purchasing decisions, and they should know when a brand paid an influencer for an endorsement, because it affects the weight and credibility the consumers may give to that endorsement,” says Michael Atleson, a staff attorney for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.

Atleson says the new guide does not hold the force of law but can help influencers stay within the law.

The document tells influencers to place “simple and clear” disclosures in a place where it’s hard to miss. For example, this means placing #ad at the beginning of a caption or periodically repeating the disclosure on a livestream.

Atleson also says companies paying influencers are responsible for informing their contractors of the guidelines.

Do you recommend or endorse things on social media? If so, this video has tips to help influencers like you comply with the law: #influencers #marketing #influencers101

— FTC (@FTC) November 5, 2019

“That’s because an endorsement is an advertisement that the influencer is making on the advertiser’s behalf,” Atleson says. “Indeed, in terms of our own law enforcement activities, our focus so far has been on advertisers or their ad agencies and public relations firms.”

The publication comes on the heels of an FTC statement in October accusing a company of selling over 58,000 fake Twitter followers to people to artificially inflate their influence. The consumer watchdog agency’s first-ever complaint against social media influencers came in 2017, when they charged two popular YouTubers with failing to disclose that they own an online gambling service they were endorsing.

The FTC’s actions come as the financial power influencers hold continues to grow larger and larger. In 2020, the online advertising market on Instagram is expected to reach more than $2.5 billion.

Paolo Zialcita is an intern on NPR’s Newsdesk.

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On ‘Mellotron Variations,’ A 1960s-Era Instrument Makes A Comeback

From left to right: Musicians Robby Grant, Pat Sansone, Jonathan Kirkscey and John Medeski perform in April 2018.

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“It is an iconic part of so much pop and rock music, but it’s also an instrument that’s yet to be fully explored,” says jazz keyboardist John Medeski.

Medeski is talking about the Mellotron. In addition to using the Mellotron on his own records, last year he collaborated with Pat Sansone of Wilco, Jonathan Kirkscey and Robby Grant to put on a concert in which all four musicians played original compositions together on the instrument. This summer, they released Mellotron Variations, a live album of that concert performance, and its accompanying film comes out this week.

The way Medeski uses the instrument might sound unfamiliar to its usual fans. “There’s a wheel, a spinning wheel that controls the speed of the tapes and I started to realize that you can actually touch the wheel and change the speed and effect the sound,” Medeski says. “It gave me the ability to sort of do stuff that a DJ does — you touch a record, you slow it down, you change the speed [of the music]. So I started using the Mellotron like that, as an expressive instrument of its own, not trying to imitate strings.”

Mellotron Variations

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The Mellotron debuted in 1963. With its two keyboards, the instrument looked a lot like an organ, but on the Mellotron they were side by side — the keys on the left gave you rhythms and backing tracks, while keys on the right called up woodwinds, strings and other instruments. Music producer Tony Visconti — who’s worked with artists including David Bowie, Paul McCartney and Angélique Kidjo — is a fan.

“The people who invented it wanted this to be for home use only, so they didn’t care too much about high fidelity,” Visconti says. “The fidelity was so low, and you had this wobble in the sound. So when you pressed the key, the tape of that one note started to play. Towards the end, you’d hear a bit of a flutter, an out of tuneness…”

Musicians soon figured out how to turn these quirks into art. The Beatles used the Mellotron on “Strawberry Fields Forever” and The Moody Blues used it on several songs, including “Tuesday Afternoon.”


But Visconti says the Mellotron wasn’t really built for the road.

“My friends, the Moody Blues, they had maybe four Mellotrons that they went on the road with, and at least two were in constant maintenance,” he says.

Today, Alison Stout knows all about that constant maintenance. She restores old Mellotrons at her Philadelphia-based workshop, Bell Tone Synth Works, and it isn’t like the mass-produced synthesizers she’s used to working with. “This was just a small company making a niche product with limited resources,” she says.

Stout explains that the keys often get stuck. The tapes inside stretch and wear out, leaving behind pop and dropouts. “There are all of these alignment issues, and things have to be demagnetized, lubricated…” she continues. “It’s all just kind of rickety.”

Even though British manufacturer Streetly Electronics suspended manufacturing of the Mellotron in the mid-1980s, it remained popular, popping up in the 1990s in music by Oasis, Radiohead and Blur. Today, several companies make the instrument (including Streetly, which debuted a new model in 2007). There are also digital versions, software plugins, and even Mellotron apps. But for musicians like Medeski, nothing compares to crafting sound by hand on the old analog machines.

“I have dedicated my life to instrumental music because I do feel it’s a language of its own. The Mellotron adds another level of communicating in that language because it really opens up a door to a completely new and bizarre universe: new sounds, new colors, like an orchestra,” he says.

Mellotron Variations Concert Film will premiere Nov. 8th at the Crosstown Arts Theatre in Memphis, Tenn., and you can catch them on tour at the Oz Arts in Nashville on Dec. 7.

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