Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)

The term adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) refers to a broad range of stressful events, including abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Without adequate support or coping skills, ACEs can lead to inhibited child development, poor mental and physical health, engagement in risky behaviors, and the overutilization of healthcare expenditures1.

An ACE score was created as a way to explain an individual’s risk for potential effects; 1 point for every ACE. A higher ACE score means a higher risk for negative health outcomes in adulthood. Click to find out your ACE score today (Disclaimer: link to external website)

As the number of ACEs increases, so does the risk for these outcomes.

Types of ACEs (click image for PDF)

Three Types of Adverse Childhood Experiences

Impact of ACEs (click image go to CDC page)

Adverse Childhood Experiences Diagram of Lasting Impacts


ACEs are only one part of the equation. We know that the effects of ACEs can be buffered by supportive adult relationships, positive experiences, and developed resilience. Resilience is the ability to cope with and ‘bounce back’ from adversity.

New York State Fast Facts

  1. ACEs are very common: 2 out of 3 adults have been exposed to at least 1 ACE.
  2. Emotional abuse and parental separation/divorce represent the two most common types.
  3. Low-income individuals are more likely to experience ACEs than middle or high-income individuals.
  4. Rural residents have a greater chance of exposure to ACEs than urban ones2

Read Madison County's Adverse Childhood Experiences Health Profile (PDF).


Medical Provider Resources

General Resources

1. Felitti, Vincent J., and Robert F. Anda. "The adverse childhood experiences (ACE) study." Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (1997).
2. Understanding and Responding to Adverse Childhood Experiences in New York State, May 2018 (PDF)

Last reviewed April 28, 2023