By Rick Nauert PhD Senior News Editor

New research suggests adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in youth can influence adult health behavior.

In a new study, researchers explain how these events can influence adult smoking behaviors, especially for women. Their findings, which suggest that treatment and strategies to stop smoking need to take into account the psychological effects of childhood trauma, are found in BioMed Central’s open access journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.

Experts say that ACEs can range from emotional, physical, and sexual abuse to neglect and household dysfunction; and they affect a large range of people.

In one of the largest studies of ACEs, a survey over 60 percent of adults reported a history of at least one event. ACEs are thought to have a long-term effect on the development of children and can lead to unhealthy coping behavior later in life.

Prior research has shown that some psychiatric disorders such as depression and anxiety increase the risk of smoking. In the current study, researchers collaborated to investigate the effects of psychological distress on the relationship between ACE and current adult smoking.

The ACE questionnaire was completed by over 7000 people, about half of whom were women. Even after adjusting the data for factors known to affect a person’s propensity for smoking (such as their parents smoking during the subject’s childhood, and whether or not they had drunk alcohol in the previous month), women who had been physically or emotionally abused were 1.4 times more likely to smoke.

Researchers discovered having had a parent in prison during childhood doubled chances of women smoking.

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