Girls narrowing gap in risky behavior

May 25, 2007|By Los Angeles Times

Historically, young males have had a significant edge over girls in a wide range of risky behaviors, among them, binge drinking and failure to wear seat belts. As a result, young men have been far more likely than young women to die in car crashes.

Now, according to emergency department physicians from University of California Irvine Medical Center, boys still drink, fail to use seat belts and die in car crashes more often than girls, but girls began to narrow the gap in all measures between 1995 and 2004.

Poring over 10 years of federal car-crash data, researchers found that automobile fatalities showed a marked increase among young women of legal drinking age -- those 21 to 24 -- during the period studied.

The results were presented last week at the annual meeting of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Virginia Tsai of UC Irvine says emergency room doctors should warn young female patients brought in after minor accidents about the risks they face.

"The time and conversation the staff may have with them may save their lives," Tsai says.

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