THE director of public health in Cumbria said protecting children from Adverse Childhood Experiences will have untold benefits in later life.

Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs), stressful or traumatic events which can happen in childhood and result in damaging effects to long-term mental health and even lead to health harming behaviours like drug misuse, overeating, unprotected sex and smoking, were the focus of this year’s annual report from Cumbria’s director of public health, Colin Cox.

In Cumbria, it is estimated that there may be over 188,000 adults currently living in the county who have grown up with at least one adverse childhood experience, and over 36,000 have been exposed to four or more. Furthermore, it could be that 46,000 children currently living in Cumbria will experience at least one ACE before their 18th birthday.

“ACEs not only have the potential to cause immediate physical and mental harm to children, but can also have a lasting impact on our health, wellbeing and behaviour throughout life.

“Given how common ACEs are I am very aware that many people who read the report will have personal experience of them, and some may be affected by the content of the report.

“While this may be a challenging subject, in many ways it is a story of hope, reducing the impact of ACEs is possible and support is available. I hope that this report can contribute in some way to stopping people from suffering in silence,” said Mr Cox.

A large survey comprising of 3,885 adults in England was conducted in 2013 and showed that just under half (48 per cent) had experienced at least one adverse childhood experience.

This year’s Public Health Annual Report explores what can be done to prevent ACEs and to mitigate against their effects.

Tackling ACEs in Cumbria has the potential to bring about far reaching, lasting improvements in the health and wellbeing of the whole population, Mr Cox said.

It is hoped it would reduce the number of people suffering from type 2 diabetes, lung cancer, heart disease, stroke as well complex mental health issues.

County Cllr Deborah Earl, cabinet member for public health, said: “The good news is that many ACEs can be prevented through the provision of services that address the needs of children and their families, but also requires wider changes and the provision of safe, stable and nurturing relationships and environments for children to grow up in.”