Prevalence of Adverse Childhood Experiences Among U.S. Adults

Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are defined as preventable, potentially traumatic events that occur among persons aged <18 years and are associated with numerous negative outcomes. Previous data from 25 states indicated that ACEs are common. 

This study provides the first estimates of ACEs among U.S. adults for all 50 states and the District of Columbia using BRFSS data. BRFSS is an annual survey of health-related risk behaviors and chronic health conditions representative of noninstitutionalized adults collected from all 50 states.

During 2011–2020, nearly two-thirds of U.S. adults reported at least one ACE and approximately one in six U.S. adults reported four or more ACEs. Among certain sociodemographic groups, for example, AI/AN or multiracial adults, these numbers are even higher, reflecting inequities in socioeconomic conditions that increase the risk for ACEs. These numbers also highlight the potential intergenerational impact of ACEs through lost opportunities and lasting impacts on behavior and health.

ACEs are common, but not equally distributed within the population. Differing patterns by jurisdiction and sociodemographic characteristics demonstrate the importance of collecting ACEs data at the jurisdiction level to understand the scope of the problem, identify populations more affected by ACEs, and ACEs-related outcomes; to help guide prevention and mitigation interventions and policies.

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