Alcohol Sales Linked to Childhood Injuries
By Chris Kramer
A research study that will be published in the November 2008 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research shows that children who live in neighborhoods with a high number of alcohol retailers may be at a higher risk of personal injury.
Market Watch Business Wire reported that the study showed a correlation between the sale of alcohol and youth injuries.
Bridget Freisthler, the lead researcher of the study said that a higher number of alcohol outlets in an area can make children who live in the area more vulnerable to a variety of personal injuries.
First of all, an increased availability of alcohol in an area may increase the frequency of drinking in the home by the children's parents. This can lead to a diminished ability for the parents to provide adequate adult supervision.
Secondly, a greater density of alcohol retailers in an area may cause an increase in traffic as people come into the area to shop or dine at restaurants that serve alcohol. This can lead to confusion about who actually lives in the neighborhood and who is just visiting, which in turn can cause other adults to be reluctant to intervene if they see unsupervised children who may be at risk for injuries.
The study is a joint project between the UCLA and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE). It was funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).
Data from more than 1,600 California zip codes from the year 2000 was analyzed during the study. Researchers looked at corresponding hospital discharges for injuries to children, assaults and injuries resulting from child abuse.
Freisthler said that impoverished and disorganized areas may have a limited ability to cope with the negative effects that result from a higher number of alcohol retailers in the area. These negative effects can include more physically dangerous environments and more danger on the streets. She says that she hopes the release of the study will lead to an increased awareness in communities of what the consequences can be when there is a high density of alcohol outlets.
The study is one of a series of studies showing the impact of alcohol sales on the health, safety and welfare of people in various communities.
If the study leads to changes and decreased injuries to children, that can only be a good thing. Childhood injuries are a serious issue in the United States. During 2001, 12,249 children aged one to 14 died and injuries were the leading cause of these deaths.