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I'm Rob Logan, Ph.D., senior staff, U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM).
Here is what's new this week in To Your Health, a consumer health-oriented podcast from NLM, that helps you use MedlinePlus to follow up on weekly topics.
An increase in teen and young adult preventable deaths suggests it is time to refocus public health campaigns to target injury prevention, explains an insightful viewpoint recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
Specifically, the viewpoint's two authors report an increase in deaths from injuries between 2012-2016 for young Americans ages 25-34 and teenagers ages 15-24. Surprisingly, the authors note the increase in deaths from injuries has occurred at the same time that deaths from car and truck crashes declined significantly. Moreover, the drop occurred despite an increase in road travel in the U.S.
The viewpoint's authors explain the decline in motor vehicle deaths is a result of airbags, self-braking systems, and more use of seat belts. Previously, the authors explain injury related deaths among young adults and teens mostly resulted from motor vehicle crashes, poisoning, drowning, suicide, and homicide.
However, the authors report the recent sharp increase in the number of unintentional injury deaths among young adults is a result of opioid-related poisoning as well as homicides and suicides using firearms. In a statistic that surprised us, the viewpoint reports deaths in the U.S. from unintentional injuries attributed to opioid poisoning now outnumber deaths from automobile injuries among adults ages 25-34.
The viewpoint's authors write (and we quote): 'The increase in unintentional deaths from poisoning among teenagers and young adults is driven in large part by increases in deaths related to narcotics and hallucinogens, including heroin, fentanyl, and oxycodone' (end of quote).
The authors note deaths from opioid poisonings among young Americans have been less publicized despite increased hospitalizations for opioid poisoning that began in the late 1990s.
The viewpoint's authors explain fatalities from firearms also increased among Americans age 15-34 in recent years. The authors report firearm suicides and firearm homicides increased about 20 percent among U.S. teens (ages 15-24) from 2012-2016. Similarly, the number of firearm related suicides increased from 2,760 to 3,298 and the number of firearm homicides increased from 2,427 to 4,510 between 2012-2016 among Americans ages 25-34.
The viewpoint's authors write (and we quote): 'The recent trends of increasing numbers of teenagers and young adults dying from potentially preventable causes, such as overdoses, motor vehicle crashes, and firearms, suggest a concerning trajectory for US health outcomes, which stands in contract to trends in other high-income countries' (end of quote).
The authors add (and we quote): 'increasing mortality in the population that should be the healthiest and most productive is a warning' (end of quote).
The authors conclude new and renewed awareness efforts to help prevent unintentional injuries from opioid use, poisoning, driving, as well as firearm-based suicides and homicides should be a priority among U.S. public health agencies.
Meanwhile, the American Academy of Family Physicians counsels how teens can stay healthy in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's teen health health topic page.
The Nemours Foundation provides additional, helpful information about teen health also in the 'start here' section of MedlinePlus.gov's teen health health topic page.
Links to the latest pertinent journal research articles about teen health are available in the 'journal articles' section of MedlinePlus.gov's teen health health topic page. Links to teen health clinical trials that may be occurring in your area also are available in the 'clinical trials' section.
To find MedlinePlus.gov's teen health health topic page, please type 'teen health' in the search box on MedlinePlus.gov's home page, then, click on 'teen health (National Library of Medicine).' MedlinePlus.gov also contains a health topic page on college health that provides evidence-based medical advice for young men and women.
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