VII. The Need for Help with Toxic Stress Experienced in Childhood Continues into Adulthood Print E-mail


The Lifelong Effects of Trauma in Childhood


Robert Pearl, M.D. reports that trauma in childhood can cause psychological and physical harm that appears later in life as the child becomes an adult.1  In a groundbreaking study published in 1997, Robert Anda, M.D. and Vincent Felitti, M.D., led data collection from more than 17,000 patients for the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Kaiser Permanente in San Diego.  The study clearly showed that adverse childhood experiences (ACE’s) were common, that they had a profound negative effect on health and well-being; and that they were a prime determinant of past, current and future health behaviors, social problems, disease incidence, and early death in the study population.2


The researchers asked respondents about their childhoods and counted the number of “adverse” experiences they had such as parents who drank too much or took drugs; physical sexual, or psychological abuse; a parent who died or one who was incarcerated.   Nearly two-thirds of the San Diego patients had at least one adverse experience, and one in eight respondents had four or more. People who had four or more ACEs were twice as likely to have heart disease, twice as likely to have cancer, and almost four times as likely to suffer from emphysema or chronic bronchitis. Later research showed that people with six or more ACEs died nearly 20 years earlier than did those with none.  The number of ACEs had a much stronger association with long-term health outcomes than race or income.3


The ACEs pyramid below, created by Drs. Robert Anda and Vincent Felitti, shows how childhood trauma connects to social, emotional and cognitive impairment that can lead to the adoption of behaviors that present a high risK for health in adulthood.2


birth to death - a whole-life perspective on aces


Brittney Schaefer from the National Alliance on Mental Illness explains that when a child experiences toxic stress, its brain responds by flooding the body with stress-related chemicals.4 When a person's brain perceives some kind of threat or danger, it sends signals to the body to produce chemicals such as the hormones, adrenaline, norepinephrine, and cortisol, that are necessary for survival.5 

Schaefer notes that when 'flooding' happens repeatedly, the brain and body changes. The brain gets accustomed to the danger-survival cycle and often floods the body with stress-related chemicals at the first hint of any kind of threat—even if the threat is long gone. Stress-related chemicals can have a lasting impact on the body—leading to a greater susceptibility to chronic disease and addiction."4


However, the same plasticity that makes children vulnerable to adversity also makes them most responsive to positive countermeasures.  Early childhood education together with coaching of parents on how to care for their children at different ages by pediatricians and social workers can greatly help children develop the abilities they will need as adults. New understanding of the biology of toxic stress allows doctors, social workers, and educators to target the pathways that are disrupted with greater insights than ever before. Treatment involves reducing the child’s exposure to adversity and helping their caregiver to minimize the child’s stress. More sleep, better nutrition, exercise, and mindfulness techniques help reduce stress hormones and inflammation, increase neuroplasticity and delay cellular aging3 in both children and adults.




brain process under typical conditions




alarm system express route becomes the main road



When children are exposed to trauma, as they become teenagers and young adults, they frequently adopt coping behaviors that are harmful to their health. 


common harmful behaviors of adults with aces



Approximately eight years after the original Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) studies began to appear, the two original ACE researchers,  Dr.  Robert Anda and Dr. Vincent Felitti, wrote a journal article together with other scientists making the case that the links between ACEs and other health outcomes were more than correlations. In a well-reasoned argument they proposed that ACEs cause many of the outcomes linked with them. They made their case using both the original ACE epidemiology work and more recent findings in neurobiology which had explored changes in the brain as a result of traumatic experiences in childhood.
Our nation is in general paying a high economic cost for toxic stress. Having an ACE score of 4 or more is associated with an elevated relative risk of developing 7 of the 10 leading causes of death in the U.S. The ICE policy of intruding into people's homes and places of work to remove one or both parents for deportation without a warrent for criminal activity increases the incidence of adverse childhood experiences which can seriously harm people for a lifetime and be passed on to future generations, as represented by the line on the right pointing downward in the figure below labelled "Intergenerational Transmission."


aces impacts through the life span pyramid


If we pursue policies that aggravate adversity in our communities, like the current ICE policy of deporting parents on whom children depend for emotional support and the necessities of life, we will continue to pay for it downstream.3   If we are quick to recognize a problem and intervene effectively, we can dramatically lower the inevitable disease burden from ACE and prevent much long-term harm.  However, if we fail to do so, we as a society, along with the victims, will pay a huge price in terms of health care costs, workplace productivity, and our children's future.1 For families who have lived in the U.S. a good number of years, but are unauthorized, the way to avoid the harm of toxic stress due to the threat of a parent's deportation or actual deportation is simple.  Let parents stay in the place they call home to continue to care for their children here in the U.S. where they have lived for so many years.




1.  Pearl, Robert, M.D. “Can We Stop a Traumatized Child from Becoming a Traumatized Adult.”  Forbes, April 16, 2015.

2.  Suginaka, Caitlin, M.P.H. ’13 and Boose, Dietrich Boose.  “The toll of ACE’s:  Adverse Childhood Experiences and their Effect on Lifelong Health.”


3.  Harris, Nadine Burke.  "Toxic childhoods:  Why inner city children grow up to be sick adults . . . and why the lessons also apply to rural America."  Politico:  The Agenda 2020, The Future of Health, February 8, 2017.


4.  Schaeffer, Brittney.  "What You Should Know about Toxic Stress."  National Alliance on Mental Illness, August 18, 2017.


5.  "Understanding the stress response."  Harvard Medical School, March 18, 2016.


6.  Anda, R.F., Felitti, V.J., Brenner, J.D., Walker, J.D., Whitfield, C., Perry, B.D., Dube, S.R., & Giles, W.H. (2006).  "The enduring effects of abuse and related adverse experiences in childhood: A convergence of evidence from neurobiology and epidemiology."  European Archives of Psychiatry and Neurological Sciences, 256, 174-186.







The Cost of Treating Childhood Trauma during Adulthood


A study in the Netherlands found that psychological abuse had the greatest impact on later disability, followed by other forms of maltreatment (physical or sexual abuse, emotional neglect), parental psychopathology, and other disruptive early life experiences, with each of these acting independently as a predictor of disability. The study suggests that if the cost of other ACEs were included, the estimates of long-term health costs would vastly increase.  The conclusion of the Netherlands study is that the burden of disease associated with ACEs was greater than all other common psychiatric disorders combined.1, 2 


A study in Alaska noted that the full range of adverse childhood experiences together with the changes in the brain that are passed on to future generations make the costs of mental health services for toxic stress huge. For the 351,482 Alaskans who had one or more adverse childhood experiences, the study estimated there would be $800 million in costs in 2013.  That's for 64% of the adult population in Alaska who reported one or more incidences of ACE.  That amounts to an average of $2,276 per person.  If half of MN's children's unauthorized immigrant parents were deported as the administration currently plans, all of these children would be exposed to the trauma of having a parent move away, and many would be under the stress of living on minimal resources and time pressures with the need to help out at home.  The 30,787 children X $2,276 gives us an estimated total annual cost of $70,071,000 for MN and $2,268,000 for treating Brooklyn Park's adults who experienced losing a parent's presence during their childhood due to deportation.4 





    1. Cuijpers P, Smit F, Unger F. et al. "The disease burden of childhood adversities in adults: a population
    - based study."  Child Abuse & Neglect, 2011 35:937 - 945.
    2. World Health Organization. The Global Burden of Disease: 2004 Update.  Geneva, Switzerland: WHO   
    Press, 2008.
    3. David L. Corwin, MD, Chair; Randell Alexander, MD, PhD; et. al. White Paper Steering Committee.  
    "Adverse Childhood Experiences:  Healing and Health, Section 5.  October 2, 2013.
    4.  Sidmore, Patrick, MSW and Alaska Mental Health Board and the Advisory Board on Alcoholism and Drug  
    Abuse.  "Economic Costs of Adverse Childhood Experiences in Alaska."  2013.


What's the Total Cost for Help to Children
Whose Parents Have Been Deported?
Our number exercises that give an idea of the cost of help for families who have had a parent deported are added below.  They aren't meant to be exact, but to give an idea of how much it costs to help the people directly affected by ICE deportation policies.  The numbers are based on current administration policy to deport half of the unauthorized immigrants in the nation.  Our hope is that our Senators and Representatives will come up with a much more humane policy that respects the rights of all people and especially those who call our nation home, whether they are citizens or not, whether they are authorized of not.  Most developed nations that regard their form of government a democracy in the 21st century follow a convention based on the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights which does not allow a country that agrees to the convention to deport a person that has an established family and work life in that country.
Important questions that this immigration portal is addressing include "What actually caused immigrants to reside in our nation without authorization and who is actually responsible for that cause?'  "What are the consequences of the current administration policy of deporting residents of our states who are not engaged in criminal activity?  How does it affect the deportee and the deportee's families?  What good or harm does deportation cause to our cities, states, and nation?" 
This Immigration Portal has been developed by board members and volunteers for Think Again MN in an effort to gain information that explains why many immigrants have become residents of our state and country without authorization, to present the costs and benefits of their becoming residents of our state, and to reveal the impact deporting immigrants in larger numbers would have on communities and business development in MN.  In articles VI and VII, we have been discussing the costs of caring for the families of immigrants who have been deported.  These are approximate costs based on cost figures we have come across in our reading.  Some, such as the estimate of family costs, are probably low because they are based on a figure from Utah from several years ago which we think is likely less than current support for low income families in MN.  Some estimates such as the number of children who would become foster children is a guess and could be either too high or too low.  Information to help us estimate the number of additional staff members that would be needed in K-12 schools if the number of students with parents who were deported increases, has not been found yet.  If you can help us with that, please contact This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  Nevertheless, we decided we have enough information to share with others that can give them insights into the costs of deportation and its impact on our communities, on business development in our state, and on our national economy.  We encourage others to make estimates of the costs immigrant deportation would cause for their own city. Using the the method we used in Section VI of the Immigration Portal is a quick way to do this.  Below is a summary of the estimates in Sections VI and VII on the costs of caring for family members of deported immigrants as we move toward the administration's goal of deporting half of the unauthorized immigrants in Minnesota and Brooklyn Park.
                                                                 MINNESOTA        BROOKLYN PARK    
1) Low Income Families with                   $231,684,917                            $8,688,184
    Deported Parent
2) The Cost of Foster Care                       $146,828,696                            $5,506,076
3) Cost of Early Childhood
    Education in Minnesota
                       $106,440,000                            $3,991,500

4) K-12 Staff Needed for                       
    Students whose Parent                     Not Estimated yet
    Was Deported
5) Cost of Helping Adults with
    Toxic Stress in Childhood due          $  70,071,000                            $2,627,662
    to Deportation of a Parent
                        TOTAL                          $555,024,613                 $20,813,422
The annual costs listed above will gradually rise over a number of years to the above level if the current administration follows through on its plan to deport half of the unauthorized immigrants in the U.S.  Then the costs will probably stay at approximately that level a few years followed by a gradual decline as many of the citizen children of the deported immigrants became adults who are employed in higher paid occupations than their immigrant parents had.
The costs of the above benefit categories are currently paid for low income citizens and documented immigrants by federal, state, county, and city governments and school districts with federal and state income taxes and property taxes paid by residents and businesses.  Though the costs are substantial, we have not found government units that have budgeted to cover the future benefit costs of the families of deported immigrants nor candidates for offices at any level of government who have addressed these costs.  We have only heard plans for increasing the budget for more ICE officers, prisons, and a border wall.  With the current administration's plans to shift to giving block grants to the states instead of paying individual benefits, rising costs for assistance to the families of deported immigrants would shift to states and cities.  We decided to estimate both the cost of taking care of the deportee's families for the state as a whole and for a city because we don't yet know how the responsibility for those costs will evolve.




MN's Leading Election System

With Secretary of State Steve Simon


steve simon


Listen to Secretary of State Steve Simon's excellent presentation on MN's outstanding election system emulated by many other states at the Think Again Brooklyns forum January 19, 2016.  Secretary Simon includes ways in which it can be improved, and he explains why it is important to vote.  He concludes with a quote from a tee shirt:  "Failure to vote is not an act of rebellion.  It is an act of surrender."

Get details on how to vote at

How Oregon Became the Easiest Place to Vote in the US

By Lornet Turnbull
YES! Magazine
October 8, 2016


In January, Oregon became the first state in the country to begin automatically registering eligible citizens to vote when they obtain or renew their driver's licenses or state IDs, completely shifting the burden of voter registration from the individual to the government. 

Read the Article

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