For the first time, Kidsdata now has data that paint a unique picture of childhood trauma experienced by mothers of infants across California.
2011-2012 data from the California Department of Public Health’s Maternal and Infant Health Assessment show two counties (among counties with data), Kern and Stanislaus, where more than 10 percent of postpartum mothers say they experienced four or more childhood hardships, from not having their basic needs met, to parental legal trouble or incarceration, to foster care placement, among others. The higher number of traumatic events a child experiences, the more long-lasting impacts those events may have on the child's physical, mental, and emotional health.
Fifteen percent of the state’s postpartum mothers say they lived with a parent or guardian with a serious substance abuse problem during their childhoods. When broken down by county however, the Central Valley again shows a disproportionate amount of trauma. In Kern and Stanislaus counties, roughly 20 percent of postpartum mothers were exposed to serious substance abuse during their childhoods. Similarly, Tulare, Stanislaus and Fresno counties were among the counties with the highest percentages of postpartum mothers who experienced family hunger during their childhoods.
Childhood adversity can lead to serious, long-term impacts on one’s health and well being. Resilience, an adaptive response to hardship, can mitigate the effects of adverse childhood experiences.
A number of policies and programs can help curb the effects of childhood adversity, including strengthening parent education, improving the social safety net for families in need, and institutionalizing “trauma-informed” community services and health care.