Adverse Childhood Experiences – Dr. Nadine Burke Harris Revolutionizing Pediatric Medicine

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris’s TEDMED Talk on how childhood trauma – Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) – affects health across a lifetime is remarkable. I urge readers of this blog to view her 15 minute video because childhood trauma is one of the key risk factors for developing a substance use disorder.

Revolutionizing Pediatric Medicine to Recognize and Treat Adverse Childhood Experiences

I then urge you to take a look at the website for the Center for Youth Wellness Dr. Burke Harris founded and references in her TEDMED Talk. The Center’s mission – “to improve the health of children and adolescents exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences.” Their goal:

“… is to change the standard of pediatric practice by creating a clinical model that recognizes the impact of adverse experiences on health and effectively treats toxic stress in children. We do this by using a multidisciplinary approach focused on preventing and undoing the chemical, physiological and neurodevelopmental results of ACEs. Our model integrates primary health care, mental health and wellness, research, policy, education, and community and family support services to meet children and families where they are to support them in leading healthier lives.” Center for Youth Wellness > “What We’re Doing”

The drastic impacts of toxic stress on children exposed to ACEs experience is life changing:

Children are especially vulnerable to the harmful effects of chronic stress and trauma. For many kids who are repeatedly exposed to Adverse Childhood Experiences, such as violence at home or in the community, or having a parent with mental illness or substance dependence, their “fight or flight” system is activated so often that it stays on. These high levels of emergency hormones can lead to changes in the structure and function of children’s developing brains and bodies. The result is toxic stress.” Dr. Burke Harris, Center for Youth Wellness > “What is Toxic Stress”

I’m sure you’ll agree that Dr. Burke Harris’s approach needs to be shared and replicated widely.

Thanks for doing your part to make this happen.

Lisa Frederiksen

Lisa Frederiksen

Author | Speaker | Consultant | Founder at
Lisa is the author of hundreds of articles and 11 books, including "If You Loved Me, You'd Stop!," "Addiction Recovery: What Helps, What Doesn't," and "Secondhand Drinking: the Phenomenon That Affects Millions." She is a national keynote speaker with over 25 years speaking experience, consultant, and founder of She has spent more than 14 years studying 21st century brain research in order to write, speak, and consult on substance use disorders prevention, intervention and treatment; mental disorders; addiction (aka substance use disorders) as a brain disease; adolescent addiction treatment vs adult addiction treatment; effective treatment for co-occurring disorders (having both a substance use and mental disorder); secondhand drinking | drugging; help for the family; and related subjects. In 2015, she founded SHD Prevention, providing training and consulting to companies, public agencies, unions, nonprofits and other entities to address the workplace impacts of employee secondhand drinking and alcohol misuse.
Lisa Frederiksen

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  1. Thanks for sharing this TED Talk. It’s so important to show that mental health is as important as physical health, especially when it comes to children and young adults. This program seems like a step in the right direction.

  2. This video was great and I hope these ACE scores are something that becomes standard worldwide. Think of the good we could do if we worked on these issues long before they could become maladaptive, like she said.

  3. Don’t underestimate the trauma to children in higher income families…everyone concentrates on low income families …not exacctly an honest view…

    • I agree with you 100% Alleta. In fact, the original 17,000 ACE Study participants were mostly white, middle to upper middle class, with jobs and health insurance (they all were members of Kaiser Permanente in San Diego). Check out ACES Too High at for more one how far-reaching this research is being used to recognize and help ALL children (and adults) who experience trauma before age 18. This is another link from ACEs Too High to check out,
      Thanks for raising this important point.