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Study: Lower legal drinking age increases poor birth outcomes
Date:5/21/2009

cases the impact of a reduced drinking age disproportionately falls on African-Americans. The researchers found that a drinking age of 18 increases the probability of an unplanned pregnancy by 25 percent for African-American women, for example.

The team's analysis revealed that the negative birth outcomes associated with a lower drinking age aren't the direct result of prenatal alcohol consumption on fetal health. Instead, a lower minimum drinking age results in more unplanned pregnancies, which are known to be associated with poorer infant health outcomes.

"Teenagers who get pregnant unexpectedly are less likely to receive good prenatal care and may not take as much interest in the child as someone who tried to get pregnant," Fertig said. "As a result of these behaviors on the mom's part, the child ends up with worse outcomes."

Last year, a group known as the Amethyst Initiative comprised of more than 100 college and university presidents and chancellors signed a statement encouraging discussion about lowering the legal drinking age. Fertig said her study broadens the debate by adding a new dimension that until now has not been considered.

"There are consequences to lowering the drinking age beside traffic fatalities," Fertig said. "There's this potentially big effect on birth outcomes, and to me that argues that we should leave the minimum drinking age where it is."


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Contact: Sam Fahmy
sfahmy@uga.edu
706-542-5361
University of Georgia
Source:Eurekalert  

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