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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

June 5, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Health-care reform

Reducing child abuse lowers future health costs

Three city police chiefs identified the importance of including child-abuse prevention and mental-health treatment in health-care reform in terms of crime and public safety [“Health reform fights abuse, crime,” Opinion, guest commentary, June 3].

There is yet another cost to society, health care and abused children. Besides their lifetime of unhappiness formed through neglect and abuse, they are at greater risk for chronic disease.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study, referred to as the ACE study, informs us that the long-term consequences of childhood abuse can last well into old age. The study, done in the late ‘ 90s, first reported the relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to increased risk for many of the leading causes of death in adults, including heart disease. Negative childhood experiences produced psychological risk factors, such as depression and anger, that increased the likelihood of heart disease over the traditional risk factors of smoking, physical inactivity, obesity, diabetes and hypertension.

Preventing or at least reducing child abuse is not just the right thing to do; the upfront cost is well-compensated-for in reduction of health-care costs.

— Bertha D. Cooper, Sequim

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