How pediatricians at Primary Children’s Hospital are identifying childhood trauma to help kids thrive

Pediatric trauma is a serious problem that affects millions of children every year – and the pandemic may have exacerbated the problem.

Experts say that as many as 80 percent of all children experience at least one traumatic stress, and health care costs to treat children who have experienced trauma are estimated by CDC to be $120 billion in any given year. But specialists at Intermountain’s Primary Children’s Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Utah have developed a way to identify childhood trauma so they can give children the treatment they need and support families through difficult stressors.

This traumatic stress care model has been used to screen 50,000 young children for adverse childhood experiences, including food or home insecurity, racism, and community safety, connecting several thousand children and adolescents with evidence-based care they need. to have.

This early identification is key to helping children thrive, said Neal Davis, MD, medical director of pediatric community care for Intermountain Healthcare.

“Children rapidly develop cognition, language, emotional growth and reasoning skills from birth to age five. When young children grow up in unhealthy environments, it can hinder their development and have a lasting effect on their ability to fulfill their potential,” said Dr. davis.

“The good news is that if we proactively address risk factors, children have a better chance of long-term health and success,” he added.

Adverse childhood experiences can affect a child’s health well into adulthood — and increase the risk of chronic diseases, including diabetes, cancer, heart disease, mental illness, substance use disorders, and other health problems later in life.

Addressing these risk factors early on gives children more opportunities to thrive and promotes a healthier community. Early interventions can significantly reduce the incidence of infant deaths, developmental delays, substance use disorders and the likelihood of confrontation with the criminal justice system.

Addressing adverse childhood experiences is part of the Intermountain Healthcare Healthy Kids initiative and Intermountain’s “Primary Promise” to invest $500 million to create the national health system for children.

The investment will be shared by Intermountain Healthcare and community philanthropic support through Intermountain Foundation’s emerging campaign.

This year, the Healthy Kids initiative received a $10 million gift from community leader Chrystal Maggelet and her family

“Healthy Kids focuses on engaging community partners to get upstream from challenges and prevent them from happening where possible,” said Dr. davis. “Early interventions can only help children thrive well into the future and create stronger communities.”

You can get more information on the Intermountain Healthcare website.

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