The Institute for Health Policy and Practice has released a new study conducted by the NH Pediatric Improvement Partnership. The report, Addressing Childhood Adversity and Social Determinants in Pediatric Primary Care, identifies approaches to better address the short and long-term impacts of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and the social determinants of health on children’s health and wellbeing. ACEs encompass physical and emotional abuse, neglect and other household challenges including household substance use such as opioids. Social determinants are features of the environment where a person lives, such as availability of jobs and play areas for children, that can affect health.
When exposed to ACEs and other negative social determinants, a child’s stress response system is activated, which if prolonged and excessive, can lead to toxic levels of stress that derail development. Pediatric primary care physicians play a critical role in prevention and early intervention, but they cannot do it alone. The report offers recommendations for developing multidisciplinary care teams, training on trauma-informed care, and improving care coordination and outreach surrounding local resources and services. It also emphasizes the importance of involving policymakers and the public in these processes to better support children and families affected by adverse childhood experiences and negative social determinants of health.