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For Immediate Release

News from the December 2011 AJPH

AJPH News Release


EMBARGOED UNTIL Oct. 20, 2011, 4 PM (ET)


CONTACT:  For copies of articles or full table of contents of issue, call APHA Communications at 202-777-2511 or email us


The articles below will be published online October 20, 2010, at 4 p.m. (ET) by the American Journal of Public Health under “First Look,” and they are currently scheduled to appear in the December 2011 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.



American Journal of Public Health Highlights:

·         Female drivers at greater risk of injury

·         Low birthweight, socioeconomic status linked to adult disease

·         Mortgage delinquency associated with mental health impairments and lack of access to health-related resources

Female drivers at greater risk of injury

Female drivers experience greater vulnerabilities when involved in motor vehicle crashes, according to a new national study published in the American Journal of Public Health. Researchers say the lack of tailoring of safety designs toward the female population may be to blame.

Researchers used national crash data between 1998 and 2008 to determine the role of driver gender as a predictor of injury outcome when involved in a crash.  The sample population in the study was 43 percent female, the overall average age was 36 years and 11 percent were older than 60 years. The crashes considered in this study mostly involved passenger cars (67 percent), followed by SUVs (15 percent), light trucks (11 percent) and vans (6 percent). The results from this study suggest that belted female drivers are more susceptible to injuries compared with belted male drivers when involved in a comparable motor vehicle crash. Researchers also found that belted female drivers exhibited a higher risk of chest and spine injuries compared with their male counterparts in comparable crashes.

Researchers noted “a higher risk of lower extreme injuries reported for female drivers as a result of their relatively short stature, preferred seating posture and a combination of these factors yielding lower safety protection from the standard restraint devices.”

The study’s authors concluded, “Female motor vehicle drivers today may not be as safe as their male counterparts; therefore, the relative higher vulnerability of female drivers …when exposed to moderate and serious crashes must be taken into account.”

[From: "Vulnerability of Female Drivers Involved in Motor Vehicle Crashes: An Analysis of US Population at Risk." Contact: Dipan Bose, Center for Applied Biomechanics, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.].

Low birthweight, socioeconomic status linked to adult disease

A new study from the American Journal of Public Health reports that low birth weight and childhood socioeconomic status are strongly associated with the onset of chronic disease in adulthood.

Using nationally representative data, researchers examined 4,387 children who were members of the Panel Study of Income Dynamics in 1968. These children were followed up until 2007, when they were between the ages of 39 and 56 years old. They were measured for the onset of asthma, hypertension, diabetes, stroke, heart attack and heart disease. Researchers found that low birth weight significantly increased the likelihood of asthma, hypertension, stroke, heart attack and heart disease; this finding held true even when the researchers put extensive controls for childhood socioeconomic disadvantage.

The study’s authors said, “Our findings suggest that the seeds of vulnerability to chronic health conditions are planted early in life. Low birth weight and childhood socioeconomic disadvantage accelerate the onset of chronic diseases in the United States.”

They suggest, “Intervention and policies that promote early childhood health and reduce childhood socioeconomic disadvantage generate immediate gains in well-being that can justify their existence.”

[From: “Early-Life Origins of Adult Disease: National Longitudinal Population-Based Study of the United States.” Contact: Rucker C. Johnson, University of California, Berkeley


Mortgage delinquency associated with mental health impairments and lack of access to health-related resources

A national study released today in the American Journal of Public Health found that mortgage delinquency increased the risk of declines in health, particularly depressive symptoms, in Americans over the age of 50; mental health impairments were exacerbated by the lack of sufficient access to health-relevant resources.

Researchers investigated whether mortgage delinquency was associated with decreases in health and access to health-relevant resources over a two-year period in a nationally representative cohort of Americans older than 50 years. In 2008, 2,474 participants reported whether they had fallen behind on mortgage payments since 2006. They compared changes in health, including any incidence of elevated depressive symptoms and major declines in self-rated health, as well as monitored changes in access to health-relevant resources, such as food and prescription medications. Compared with nondelinquent homeowners, the mortgage-delinquent group developed elevated depressive symptoms, food insecurity and cost-related nonadherence with prescription medications.

The study’s authors said, “The rise in mortgage defaults may have important public health implications that could ultimately prove costly to affected individuals, employers, the health care system, and society…Our results also suggest that the housing crisis may be exacerbating health disparities because lower-income and minority homeowners were at higher risk than other homeowners for mortgage default.”

[From: “Mortgage Delinquency and Changes in Access to Health Resources and Depressive Symptoms in a Nationally Representative Cohort of American Older than 50 years.” Contact: Bill Seiler, Media Relations, University of Maryland School of Medicine, Baltimore, 410-328-8919].





The American Journal of Public Health is the monthly Journal of the American Public Health Association. APHA is a leading publisher of books and periodicals promoting sound scientific standards, action programs and public policy to enhance health. More information is available at


Complimentary online access to the journal is available to credentialed members of the media.  Address inquiries to APHA Communications at 202-777-2511 or via email. A single print issue of the Journal is available for $30 from the Journal’s Subscriptions department. If you are not a member of the press, a member of APHA or a subscriber, online single issue access is $20 and online single article access is $15. Order or renew a subscription online or for direct customer service, call 202-777-2516 or email AJPH subscriptions.


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