Connecting the Dots: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the Impacts of Childhood Trauma

Connecting the Dots: Dr. Nadine Burke Harris on the Impacts of Childhood Trauma

The experiences we have as children affect who we are later in life. Makes sense, right?

Unfortunately, the difficult events we endure can have a lasting impact. A growing body of science is teaching us about the cumulative impacts of these events, known as Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs).

Based on research originally conducted from 1995 to 1997, by staff at Kaiser Permanente and the CDC, over 17,000 people received physical exams and completed surveys about their health and childhood experiences.

What did they find?

  • Two-thirds of study participants had experienced at least one ACE
  • Over 1 in 5 people had three or more ACEs
  • As the number of ACEs increases, risk for health issues like heart and liver disease, depression, risk for sexual violence, and more, also increase.

ACEs are incredibly common, and that’s where the work of Dr. Nadine Burke Harris comes in.

She tells it best in her own words during her TEDMED talk in 2015.


Realizing that ACEs were impacting the lives of the children she cared for, she created the Center for Youth Wellness. There, she and her team are working to “revolutionize pediatric medicine and transform the way society responds to kids exposed to significant adverse childhood experiences and toxic stress.”

Healing long-term effects

Most recently, Dr. Burke Harris released The Deepest Well: Healing the Long-Term Effects of Childhood Adversity. She tells the story of working with a child who stopped growing in the aftermath of his sexual assault. Then, she connects her experiences in clinic to the growing science that she believes holds hope in “breaking the cycle of childhood adversity and its physical manifestations that too often get handed down from generation to generation.”

At the Minnesota Children’s Alliance, we celebrate Dr. Burke Harris as she continues her groundbreaking work.

Her new book, The Deepest Well is available for purchase now. She will be in town for the Westminster Town Hall Forum on April 10, an event free and open to the public, to discuss her work.

Feature image via