On 1 January, California became the first U.S. state to screen for adverse childhood experiences (ACE), which can have devastating health consequences in later life. The project is not just a public health initiative, but a vast experiment. State officials aim to cut the health impacts of early life adversity by as much as half within a generation. But critics say the health benefits of screening are unproven, and it could create demand for services the state cannot provide.
For researchers, Prather says, the screening program offers a chance to study why some people are more resilient to ACEs, and how different adverse experiences affect the brain and body. The state plans to fund studies with $9 million from the private-public California Initiative to Advance Precision Medicine.