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Residential Treatment Center for Boys Ages 14-18

 > Trauma  > New Research: Trauma in Teens & Children Can Change DNA
trauma in teens

New Research: Trauma in Teens & Children Can Change DNA

New Research: Trauma in Teens & Children Can Change DNA

We’ve known for some time that trauma in teens and children has a negative impact, but only recently have we started to understand how large of an impact and how widespread.

The early years of life–childhood, adolescence–are the most transformatory. Our brains, bodies, values, and personalities form during this period of time; this also makes us incredibly exposed and vulnerable.

In a recent TED talk, Nadine Burke Harris explains from the stage why childhood adversity can have such a dramatic effect on our lives.

How untreated trauma in teens & children can decrease life expectancy

Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and the founder and CEO of the Center for Youth Wellness, an institution that focuses on not just physical health, but mental health. Their goal is to prevent, screen, and heal the impacts of toxic stress.

tricycle-691587_1280To do this, each child is screened at regular physicals using a point system. If a child gets a positive result, they’re referred to a multidisciplinary team that specializes in treating trauma in teens and children. Along with this, parents are educated on the effects of trauma and how to spot warning signs.

The reason she did all this is because of the compelling research showing that early trauma in teens and children leads to difficulty throughout life. In high doses, trauma impacts brain development, the immune system, hormones, and even how our DNA is read and transcribed.

Childhood trauma can lead to triple the risk of developing heart disease and lung cancer–and potentially shortens your life expectancy by 20 years if untreated.

Dr. Burke Harris describes trauma as something that “literally gets under our skin and changes our physiology.” This includes everything from natural disasters to abuse to neglect to being raised by an alcoholic.

The research that changed her life was the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study by Dr. Vince Felitti at Kaiser and Dr. Bob Anda at the CDC. This study asked 17,500 adults about their exposure to Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE). Of the participants, around 70 percent were caucasian and 70 percent were college-educated.

For each ACE, they would get a point on their ACE score. Then they correlated the scores to health outcomes and discovered that the higher the ACE score, the lower the heath.

They weren’t rare, either–67 percent had at least one ACE, while 12.6 percent (1 in 8) had four or more. That’s the furthest thing from rare; they’re common.

So, after reviewing this study, she decided to create an institution that took trauma into account in order to stop its effects from tainting children’s adulthoods.

“Early adversity drastically affects health across a lifetime.” -Dr. Nadine Burke Harris

Equinox is here to help your son

Equinox RTC is a residential treatment center for teen boys, ages 14 – 18. Our students often need help for depression, anxiety, trauma in teens, drug use, and other behavioral or emotional issues.

We strive to help students develop healthy habits and lead themselves back onto a path of success through meaningful therapy and a nurturing environment. At Equinox, teenagers work towards building accountability, respect, and a solution-oriented approach to solving their challenges.

For more information about how we treat trauma in teens at Equinox, contact us today at (877) 279-8925