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Longterm Effects of Childhood Trauma

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS 2/FOX 28)--The new study conducted by the Iowa Department of Public Health says that one in two Iowans have survived an adverse childhood experience, such as abuse or suicide or even divorce.

Experts say if those issues are not addressed early, they could lead to risk factors later in life.

Tanager place has been serving children struggling with mental health issues and trauma for more than a decade and officials say the need for what they do is growing.

"Our outpatient clinic last month got 165 referrals in one month and that number continues to go up, said Tanager CEO George Estle.

The Iowa Department of Public Health agrees. They did a study that measured childhood trauma related to substance abuse, violence and others.

The results found children who go through these experiences are more likely to have poor physical health, depression or risk of suicide later in life.

"That's become so normal in our culture that we've not addressed it, said Four Oaks Program Officer Bob Sheehan.

Thats why child advocates in Iowa are hoping the study will help reduce the state's rate of childhood trauma.

"It really sort of starts to put a framework around how we can address, these mental health, these social issues in a collective way, Sheehan said.

He says instead of putting money into the prison system, the state needs focus on the mental health system.

Something he hopes this new study will open the doors to.

"If we came at this at a different way maybe we will have more success with that, he said.

According to the centers for disease control and prevention, in a worst case scenario, early adversity can take as many as 20 years off a person's life expectancy.

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