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The Holiday Blues and Economic Stress Can Steal Christmas for ID Kids

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 By Deborah Smith/Deb Courson, Contact
December 23, 2008

Boise, ID – For some, the "holiday blues" will be an even deeper blue as a result of this year's economic crisis. For Idaho's kids, it can make for more than a bummer of a Christmas - in fact, new research shows the negative effects can last far beyond the season.

A new study shows some types of stress, when combined, can actually be "toxic," causing serious health issues as kids grow up. Dr. Robert Anda, senior research fellow for the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was in Boise recently to share information from the "Adverse Childhood Experiences" (ACE) study.

Negative childhood experiences tracked in the ACE study include being poor, growing up in a single parent household, and having a family member with mental illness, or who is incarcerated. What the research found is that a combination of such constant stresses in childhood can be linked to substance abuse, mental illnesses, and poor physical health in adulthood, Anda explains.

"This really shows the price that we pay as a society for letting these kinds of common experiences affect the way children think and behave for their whole lives. Understanding how this works is really an important aspect of setting public policy and developing prevention programs."

The research brings a new urgency to prevention, and making sure Idaho's children grow up in positive environments with a combination of parent education - and intervention, when appropriate - according to Dr. Anda.

The ACE study can be viewed online at

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