As a physician in Maine, I am very interested in the Adverse Childhood Experiences Study done by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Kaiser Permanente organization.

It has been clearly demonstrated that there is a high correlation between adverse childhood experiences and poor health outcomes in later life. Examples of adverse experiences are child abuse (emotional, sexual and physical); an environment of substance abuse; lack of medical care; violence in the home; and parental separation and divorce.

As adults, children who have been subjected to significant adverse events have a higher rate of premature death, disease, disability and social problems as well as adoption of health risk behaviors and social, emotional and cognitive impairment.

It is without question that what the immigrant children who were forcibly separated from their parents experienced at the border was an adverse childhood experience, and they will suffer from this for the rest of their lives. This act of intentional cruelty by our federal government certainly rises to the level of a criminal offense, and our leaders should be held accountable.

William Frank, M.D.