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For Immediate Release
Contact: For copies of articles, call APHA Communications at  202-777-2511 or email us.

News from February 2009 American Journal of Public Health

AJPH News Release


EMBARGOED UNTIL Dec. 4, 2008, 4 PM (ET)


CONTACT:  For copies of articles, call Patricia Warin, 202-777-2511, or e-mail


The articles below will be published online Dec. 4, 2008, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look” at, and they are currently scheduled to appear in the February 2009 print issue of the Journal. “First Look” articles have undergone peer review, copyediting and approval by authors but have not yet been printed to paper or posted online by issue. The American Journal of Public Health is published by the American Public Health Association,, and is available at To stay up to date on the latest in public health research, sign up for new Journal content e-mail alerts at>ck=nck.


American Journal of Public Health Highlights:


  • School-based screenings helpful component for identifying at-risk students
  • Close proximity to alcohol outlets puts adolescents at greater risk
  • Child safety seats offer a safer ride than seat belts for children
  • Higher socioeconomic status linked to healthier behaviors


School-based screenings helpful component for identifying at-risk students


School-based screening can identify suicidal and emotionally troubled students not recognized by school professionals, a new study concludes.


Students from seven high schools in the New York metropolitan area completed the Columbia Suicide Screen. Of the 1,729 total students, 489 students screened were deemed to have a potential risk, requiring further evaluation. Approximately 34 percent of students with significant mental health problems were identified only through screening; 13 percent were identified only by school professionals; 34.9 percent were identified both through screening and by school professionals; and 18.3 percent were identified neither through screening nor by school professionals.  


“We emphasize that screening should be viewed as but one component of suicide prevention and that it does not reduce the need for school professionals to be actively engaged in identifying and helping at-risk students,” the study’s authors stated. 


[From: “School-Based Screening to Identify At-Risk Students Not Already Known to School Professionals: The Columbia Suicide Screen” Contact: Michelle A. Scott, PhD, MSW, Department of Child Psychiatry, Columbia University, New York,].  



Close proximity to alcohol outlets puts adolescents at greater risk


Researchers found that alcohol outlets are concentrated in disadvantaged neighborhoods and can contribute to adolescent drinking.


Using data from the California Health Interview Survey, this study investigated the socio-demographic disparities in alcohol environments and their relationship to adolescent drinking.  Researchers found that alcohol outlets within walking distance from homes were associated with two adverse alcohol behaviors among adolescents: increased binge drinking and driving after drinking. Furthermore, alcohol availability, measured by mean and median number of alcohol licenses, was significantly higher around residences of minority and lower-income families.


“Our findings suggest that the proximity rule needs to be tightened and more stringently enforced and that environmental interventions are needed to curtail young people’s access to commercial sources of alcohol, through tightening licensure or enforcing minimum-age drinking laws,” concluded the study’s authors.   


[From: “Alcohol Environments: Disparities in Exposure and Adolescent Drinking in California” Contact: Khoa Dang Truong, PhD, RAND Corporation, Santa Monica, Calif.,].



Child safety seats offer a safer ride than seat belts for children


Child safety seats help to reduce the risk of death during severe traffic collisions and generally outperform seatbelts.


Using the Fatality Analysis Reporting System data from 1996 to 2005, researchers examined the effectiveness of child restraints in preventing death during motor vehicle collisions among children 3 years or younger. They found that child safety seat use among children aged 3 or younger greatly reduces the risk of death during traffic collisions. Unrestrained children were three times more likely to die during collisions than were children using a child safety seat. Furthermore, they found that safety seat effectiveness is greater for younger children: death risk reduction is 74 percent for children one year and younger and 59 percent for children aged two and three years.


“Clinicians and public health practitioners should continue to encourage parents to use child safety seats in favor of seat belts and should provide information on the proper selection and use of safety seats,” said the study’s authors.  


[From: “The Effectiveness of Child Restraint Systems for Children Aged 3 Years or Younger During Motor Vehicle Collisions: 1996 to 2005” Contact: Thomas Rice, Traffic Safety Center,].



Higher socioeconomic status linked to healthier behaviors


A new study revealed that women who had experienced socioeconomic adversity throughout their lives were less likely than women who had experienced such adversity not to eat healthily and were more likely to have smoked regularly at some point in their lives.


Researchers examined the association of health behaviors and socioeconomic status in childhood and adult life among 3,523 women aged 60 to 79 years recruited from general practices in 23 British towns from 1999 through 2001. They found that the wealthiest women reported having healthier eating habits (more fruit, vegetables, fish, chicken, less processed meat), being less likely to smoke and more likely to exercise. Furthermore, researchers discovered that social mobility over one’s life course was associated with poorer diets and reduced physical activity.


“Improving socioeconomic inequalities in health behaviors and, ultimately, in disease outcomes will require development of better interventions, which will need to be applied across the life course and will need to focus on disadvantaged groups to provide the greatest benefit,” the study’s authors stated.


[From: “Influence of Life Course Socioeconomic Position on Older Women’s Health Behaviors: Findings From the British Women’s Heart and Health Study” Contact: Shah Ebrahim, BMedSci, MSc, DM, FRCP, FFPHM, Department of Epidemiology and Population Health, London, England,].  



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