Covid Deaths Left Orphans. The Stress of That Loss May Carry Lifelong Risks.

Avion Simon and his siblings, C.J., and Momo, lost their mother to Covid-19. Science has some ideas about the health hurdles that Covid orphans could face in the future.

Scientists have long observed the effects of adverse events in childhood on mental health, but a study published in 1998 uncovered a less well-known outcome: Certain kinds of stressors, known as ACES – short for adverse childhood experiences – can have lasting effects on physical health, too.

The study identified 10 adverse childhood experiences including abuse, a parent’s mental illness and divorce, and matched them to risky health behavior and disease later in life.

Ongoing or repeated exposure to adversity, the study found, can trigger physical changes in the body that increase the likelihood of developing diseases like cancer and diabetes later on.

This documentary was created in partnership with Scientific American. View past collaborations here.

A special thank you to the National Institute for Health Care Management (NIHCM) Foundation for supporting this project.

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  • Senior Producer: Jill Rosenbaum
  • Producer: Sarah Weiser
  • Editor: Anne Checler