There are 10 types of childhood trauma measured in the ACE Study.
Five are personal — physical abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, physical neglect, and emotional neglect.
The first research results were published in 1998, followed by 57 other publications through 2011.
They showed that: A whopping two thirds of the 17,000 people in the ACE Study had an ACE score of at least one — 87 percent of those had more than one.
Eighteen states have done their own ACE surveys; their results are similar to the CDC’s ACE Study.
The study’s researchers came up with an ACE score to explain a person’s risk for chronic disease.
Think of it as a cholesterol score for childhood toxic stress. The higher your ACE score, the higher your risk of health and social problems.
(Of course, other types of trauma exist that could contribute to an ACE score, so it is conceivable that people could have ACE scores higher than 10; however, the ACE Study measured only 10 types.) As your ACE score increases, so does the risk of disease, social and emotional problems.
With an ACE score of 4 or more, things start getting serious.
The ACE Study included only those 10 childhood traumas because those were mentioned as most common by a group of about 300 Kaiser members; those traumas were also well studied individually in the research literature.
The most important thing to remember is that the ACE score is meant as a guideline: If you experienced other types of toxic stress over months or years, then those would likely increase your risk of health consequences.