Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

Drinking alcohol is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy

A study of the associations between drinking alcohol and the chances of becoming pregnant suggests that women who want to conceive should avoid heavy drinking. In the second half of menstrual cycle even moderate drinking is linked to reduced chances of pregnancy.

The study, published today in Human Reproduction, one of the world’s leading reproductive medicine journals, investigated alcohol intake and fecundability, which is defined as the probability of conceiving during a single menstrual cycle. It is the first study to look at this according to the difference phases of women’s menstrual cycles.

Researchers led by Dr. Kira Taylor, associate professor of epidemiology and population health at the University of Louisville School of Public Health and Information Sciences (Kentucky), analyzed data from the Mount Sinai Study of Women Office Workers. Women aged 19-41 years were recruited between 1990 and 1994 and followed for a maximum of 19 menstrual cycles. The women completed daily diaries reporting how much alcohol they drank and what type, and they provided urine samples on the first and second day of each menstrual cycle in order to check for pregnancy.

Heavy drinking was defined as more than six alcoholic drinks a week, moderate drinking was three to six drinks a week, and binge drinking was defined as four or more drinks on a single day. Each drink consisted of a third of a liter of beer (355 milliliters), a medium glass of wine (148 milliliters), or just under a double shot of spirits (44 milliliters). The researchers collected information on factors that could affect the results, such as age, medical history, smoking, obesity, use of birth control methods and intention to become pregnant. Data on 413 women were available for the current study.

Dr. Taylor said: “We found that heavy drinking during any phase of the menstrual cycle was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception compared to non-drinkers. This is important because some women who are trying to conceive might believe it is ‘safe’ to drink during certain parts of the menstrual cycle.

“During the luteal phase, which is the last two weeks of the menstrual cycle before bleeding would start and when the process of implantation occurs, not only heavy drinking but also moderate drinking was significantly associated with a reduced probability of conception.

“At the time of ovulation, usually around day 14 of the cycle, consuming a lot of alcohol—either heavy or binge drinking—was significantly associated with reduced chances of conception.”

Compared to non-drinkers both moderate and heavy drinking during the luteal phase was linked to a reduction in the odds of conceiving by about 44%. Heavy drinking during the ovulatory part of the cycle was also associated with significant 61% reduced odds of becoming pregnant. However, the researchers stress these are all estimates and should be treated with caution.

“If we assume that a typical, healthy, non-drinking woman in the general population who is trying to conceive has approximately a 25% chance of conceiving during one menstrual cycle, then out of 100 women approximately 25 non-drinkers would conceive in a particular cycle, about 20 moderate drinkers would conceive and only about 11 heavy drinkers would conceive,” said Dr. Taylor. “But the effect of moderate drinking during the luteal phase is more pronounced and only about 16 moderate drinkers would conceive.

“Our study only included a few hundred women and, while we believe the results strongly suggest that heavy and even moderate alcohol intake affects the ability to conceive, the exact percentages and numbers should be viewed as rough estimates.”

Each extra day of binge drinking was associated with an approximate 19% reduction in the odds of conceiving during the luteal phase and a 41% reduction during the ovulatory phase. The researchers found no difference in their results between different types of drinks.

The study is not able to show that drinking alcohol causes the reduction in the chances of becoming pregnant, only that it is associated with it. Possible biological mechanisms that might explain the association could be that alcohol intake affects the processes involved in ovulation so that no egg is released during the ovulatory part of the cycle, and that alcohol could affect the ability of a fertilized egg to implant in the womb.

Dr. Taylor said: “This is the first study to examine the effect of alcohol on fecundability during specific phases of the menstrual cycle, using daily data on alcohol and other important factors such as smoking and unprotected intercourse over a period of up to 19 menstrual cycles.”

Limitations of the study included the fact that not all women were trying to conceive; alcohol intake has increased since the time of the study and the women in the study were leaner, on average, than women today; the study used self-reported data and women might under-report their alcohol consumption; and the influence of drinking by male partners was not assessed.

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Women experienced high rates of mental health problems early in COVID-19 pandemic

A study at the University of Chicago Medicine found U.S. women experienced increased incidence of health-related socioeconomic risks (HRSRs), such as food insecurity and interpersonal violence, early in the COVID-19 pandemic. This was associated with "alarmingly high rates" of mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. The research was published April 5 in the Journal of Women's Health.

Other studies have found evidence for higher rates of anxiety and depression and related issues, such as alcohol overuse, connected to the pandemic — but this study is the first to link early pandemic-related changes in HRSRs to mental health effects in women.

Most national surveys tend to report aggregated findings rather than stratifying by gender. Those early studies gave us snapshots of the health and behaviors of the whole population, but gave us limited insight on women. Yet, women constitute the majority of the essential workforce, including healthcare workers, and we wanted to make sure that women's experiences were being documented."

Stacy Lindau, MD, Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Medicine-Geriatrics, UChicago Medicine

The researchers conducted a survey of 3,200 U.S. women over the age of 18 between April 10 and 24, 2020. More than 40% of participants reported experiencing at least one HRSR during the prior year, which included issues such as food insecurity, housing instability, difficulties with their utilities, transportation challenges and interpersonal violence; 22% reported experiencing two or more HRSRs during the year before the pandemic.

But by the first spring of the pandemic, nearly half of all women — including 29% of those who did not experience pre-pandemic HRSRs — reported new (incident) or worsening HRSRs. The greatest challenge was an increase in food insecurity. Nearly 80% of those without pre-pandemic HRSRs who reported a new HRSR became food insecure. Almost a quarter experienced interpersonal violence.

"It's incredible and concerning that nearly half of women — including more than a quarter of those who had no health-related socioeconomic risks — had experienced incident or worsening conditions," said Lindau. "It's even more striking that more than a quarter of the women who had none of these risks in January or February 2020 now had at least one by April.

That points to the likelihood that a large portion of women were already near the edge of vulnerability. When the world shut down, transportation became more difficult, food access became harder, and very soon after the crisis began, many women found themselves struggling to meet basic needs."

Those who experienced socioeconomic risks prior to the pandemic also experienced the greatest increase in insecurity. Three-quarters of women with pre-pandemic HRSRs experienced new or worsening risks during the early pandemic; 38% experienced two or more, with more than half experiencing increased food insecurity.

Significantly, the survey also found that 29% of women reported symptoms of depression and anxiety — nearly twice the estimated pre-pandemic rates. One in six women screened positive for symptoms of post-traumatic stress, a rate similar to that seen after other significant disasters, such as the SARS and Ebola epidemics. Those who experienced at least one new or worsening HRSR were at significantly higher risk of experiencing anxiety and post-traumatic stress.

"Given very high rates of these problems, we're really concerned about the current capacity of our mental health system," said co-author Marie Tobin, MD, Professor of Psychiatry at UChicago Medicine. "Women are principally responsible for parenting, family caregiving and other essential work — they are key to managing and recovering from this pandemic, and now are afflicted by very significant socioeconomic risk levels that appear to be drivers of anxiety, depression and traumatic stress. We should be especially concerned that socioeconomically vulnerable women are at high risk for developing pandemic-related psychiatric morbidity."

These results, the investigators say, should help spur healthcare providers and policy makers to address the underlying and modifiable health-related socioeconomic risk factors in order to prevent these negative outcomes.

"We can't change a person's gender, but we can act to ensure that all people have the basic nutrition and shelter they need to survive," said Lindau. "We can intervene on transportation barriers, we can pass policies to delay or offset rent or utilities payments. These are modifiable factors that can be addressed by leveraging the humanitarian resources of our communities and implementing policies that ensure everyone can live independently with their basic needs met. Ensuring equitable access to the basics would be a powerful buffer against mental illness in general and could help mitigate costly and painful mental health crisis among women and everyone who depends on us in the context of this and other public health emergencies."

Source:

University of Chicago Medical Center

Journal reference:

Lindau, S. T., et al. (2021) Change in Health-Related Socioeconomic Risk Factors and Mental Health During the Early Phase of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A National Survey of U.S. Women. Journal of Women's Health. https://doi.org/10.1089/jwh.2020.8879.

Posted in: Medical Condition News | Women's Health News | Disease/Infection News

Tags: Alcohol, Anxiety, Cancer, Children, Depression, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Health Systems, Healthcare, Hospital, Medicine, Mental Health, Nutrition, Obstetrics, Pandemic, Parenting, Physiology, Psychiatry, Public Health, Research, SARS, Stress

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Combat experience linked with higher risk of alcohol use to cope with PTSD symptoms

A new Veterans Affairs study finds that combat experience is associated with a higher risk of alcohol use to cope with PTSD symptoms. But the connection is weaker when accounting for the severity of the PTSD.

The findings appeared online in the Journal of Dual Diagnosis in March 2021.

In an observational study of more than 11,000 men with at least one traumatic experience, the researchers found that those with combat experience were much more likely than those without to report drinking alcohol to cope with PTSD. The diversity of traumatic experiences, the severity of PTSD, and diagnoses of alcohol abuse or dependence were significantly tied to drinking to cope with PTSD.

However, combat experience was not strongly linked to drinking to cope when the researchers adjusted for a person's total number of PTSD symptoms.

The researchers write: "Our findings suggest that although men with combat experience may be more prone to use alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms and associated distress than trauma-exposed men without military combat experience, this may be partially due to greater overall posttraumatic stress severity among men who experienced military combat.

"This interpretation is supported by higher rates of PTSD and greater PTSD symptom totals among men with combat experience versus those without in our sample, as well as with prior research linking PTSD severity to both combat exposure and hazardous alcohol use. Alcohol use may be perceived by military combat Veterans as an effective, socially acceptable strategy for coping with PTSD symptoms and associated distress, perhaps due to certain personality factors, masculinity-related gender norms, or general attitudes toward alcohol common in the military. These and other possible interpretations warrant additional research attention."

Dr. Shannon Blakey, a postdoctoral fellow at the Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Durham VA Health Care System in North Carolina, led the study. Dr. Jack Tsai and Dr. Eric Elbogen, both of the VA National Center on Homelessness Among Veterans, were the co-authors.

Blakey was most surprised by two of the findings.

First, the association between combat experience and drinking to cope was statistically significant when adjusting for the presence versus absence of a PTSD diagnosis, but not when adjusting for the number of PTSD symptoms. This suggests that drinking to cope among trauma-exposed men is more strongly associated with PTSD severity than the mere presence of PTSD."

Dr. Shannon Blakey, Postdoctoral Fellow, Mid-Atlantic Mental Illness, Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Durham VA Health Care System in North Carolina

"Second, our analyses showed that trauma-exposed men without combat experience were more likely than men with combat experience to report an alcohol use disorder," she adds. "That's not entirely consistent with previous research and highlights the complexity of associations between trauma exposure, posttraumatic experiences, drinking to cope, and drinking severity among trauma survivors."

Understanding the complicated nature of PTSD is one of VA's most pressing challenges. Large percentages of Veterans who fought in Vietnam, the Gulf War, and Iraq and Afghanistan have had PTSD sometime in their lives. Symptoms include flashbacks, nightmares, hypervigilance, aggressive behavior, and anxiety.

Studies have shown that PTSD increases the risk for drinking problems. But research has been scant on whether combat experience is linked to alcohol use to cope with PTSD.

Blakey's team used data from men who took part in the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions. The survey recruited a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults between 2004 and 2005, including Veterans and non-Veterans.

The researchers focused mostly on the responses to the yes-no question, "Did you ever drink alcohol to improve your mood or to make yourself feel better when you were [experiencing PTSD symptoms]?" They adjusted for whether the men met the criteria for alcohol use disorder. They were thus able to capture both drinking severity and drinking to cope with PTSD symptoms in their analyses.

The survey also asked participants if they were ever in combat. Nearly 1,400 said they had combat experience, and more than 10,000 said they did not. It's possible that some in the latter group were non-combat Veterans. An analysis showed that drinking to cope with PTSD symptoms was more than twice as common among men with combat experience than those without (6.46% versus 2.37%).

Blakey says the findings raise questions that can be explored in future studies.

"Is there something unique about combat trauma, relative to other types of trauma, that increases the chances men will use substances like alcohol to ease their PTSD symptoms. Are men who experience combat more likely than men without combat experience to hold positive sociocultural beliefs about the acceptability and helpfulness of alcohol to cope with PTSD symptoms? Are men who assume combat roles at greater risk of drinking to cope due to some other pre-existing risk factor?"

Although a large sample size was a strength of Blakey's study, the research had limitations. One of them was that the participants were specifically asked about their combat experience, not about their overall military service history. Therefore, it was unknown how many of the men without combat experience were Veterans. The study also did not include women.

"Future research can hopefully compare PTSD-related alcohol use risk factors and outcomes among combat Veterans, non-combat Veterans, and non-Veterans," Blakey said. "It would also be important for future studies to recruit enough women Veterans to examine the potential influence of sex and gender on these relationships."

Source:

Veterans Affairs Research Communications

Journal reference:

Blakey, S.M., et al. (2021) Drinking to Cope with Posttraumatic Stress: A Nationally Representative Study of Men with and without Military Combat Experience. Journal of Dual Diagnosis. doi.org/10.1080/15504263.2021.1891360.

Posted in: Medical Research News | Medical Condition News | Healthcare News

Tags: Alcohol, Anxiety, Education, Health Care, Nightmares, Research, Stress, Trauma, Tsai, Veterans Affairs

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Americans coping with pandemic stress report undesired changes to weight, increased drinking

As growing vaccine demand signals a potential turning point in the global COVID-19 pandemic, the nation's health crisis is far from over. One year after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic, many adults report undesired changes to their weight, increased drinking and other negative behavior changes that may be related to an inability to cope with prolonged stress, according to the American Psychological Association's latest Stress in America™ poll.

APA's survey of U.S. adults, conducted in late February 2021 by The Harris Poll, shows that a majority of adults (61%) experienced undesired weight changes – weight gain or loss — since the pandemic started, with 42% reporting they gained more weight than they intended. Of those, they gained an average of 29 pounds (the median amount gained was 15 pounds) and 10% said they gained more than 50 pounds, the poll found.

Such changes come with significant health risks, including higher vulnerability to serious illness from the coronavirus. For the 18% of Americans who said they lost more weight than they wanted to, the average amount of weight lost was 26 pounds (the median amount lost was 12 pounds). Adults also reported unwanted changes in sleep and increased alcohol consumption. Two in 3 (67%) said they have been sleeping more or less than desired since the pandemic started. Nearly 1 in 4 adults (23%) reported drinking more alcohol to cope with their stress.

We've been concerned throughout this pandemic about the level of prolonged stress, exacerbated by the grief, trauma and isolation that Americans are experiencing. This survey reveals a secondary crisis that is likely to have persistent, serious mental and physical health consequences for years to come. Health and policy leaders must come together quickly to provide additional behavioral health supports as part of any national recovery plan."

Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA's Chief Executive Officer

The pandemic has taken a particularly heavy toll on parents of children under 18. While slightly more than 3 in 10 adults (31%) reported their mental health has worsened compared with before the pandemic, nearly half of mothers who still have children home for remote learning (47%) reported their mental health has worsened; 30% of fathers who still have children home said the same.

Parents were more likely than those without children to have received treatment from a mental health professional (32% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic began (24% vs. 9%). More than half of fathers (55%) reported gaining more weight than they wanted to, and nearly half (48%) said they have been drinking more alcohol to cope with stress.

The majority of essential workers (54%), such as health care workers and people who work in law enforcement, said they have relied on a lot of unhealthy habits to get them through the pandemic. Nearly 3 in 10 (29%) said their mental health has worsened, while 3 in 4 (75%) said they could have used more emotional support than they received since the pandemic began.

Essential workers were more than twice as likely as adults who are not essential workers to have received treatment from a mental health professional (34% vs. 12%) and to have been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the coronavirus pandemic started (25% vs. 9%).

Further, people of color reported unintended physical changes during the pandemic. Hispanic adults were most likely to report undesired changes to sleep (78% Hispanic vs. 76% Black, 63% white and 61% Asian), physical activity levels (87% Hispanic vs. 84% Black, 81% Asian and 79% white) and weight (71% Hispanic vs. 64% Black, 58% white and 54% Asian) since the pandemic began. Black Americans were most likely to report feelings of concern about the future.

More than half said they do not feel comfortable going back to living life like they used to before the pandemic (54% Black vs. 48% Hispanic, 45% Asian and 44% white) and that they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends (57% Black vs. 51% Asian, 50% Hispanic and 47% white).

"It's clear that the pandemic is continuing to have a disproportionate effect on certain groups," said APA President Jennifer Kelly, PhD. "We must do more to support communities of color, essential workers and parents as they continue to cope with the demands of the pandemic and start to show the physical consequences of prolonged stress."

Overall, Americans are hesitant about the future, regardless of vaccination status. Nearly half of adults (49%) said they feel uneasy about adjusting to in-person interaction once the pandemic ends. Adults who received a COVID-19 vaccine were just as likely as those who had not received a vaccine to say this (48% vs. 49%, respectively).

The full report and more graphics are available at http://www.stressinamerica.org.

Methodology

This Stress in America™ survey was conducted online within the United States by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association between Feb. 19 and 24, 2021, among 3,013 adults age 18+ who reside in the U.S. Interviews were conducted in English and Spanish. Data were weighted to reflect their proportions in the population based on the 2020 Current Population Survey (CPS) by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Weighting variables included age by gender, race/ethnicity, education, region, household income and time spent online. Hispanic adults were also weighted for acculturation, taking into account respondents' household language as well as their ability to read and speak in English and Spanish. Country of origin (U.S./non-U.S.) was also included for Hispanic and Asian subgroups. Weighting variables for Gen Z adults (ages 18 to 24) included education, age by gender, race/ethnicity, region, household income, and size of household, based on the 2019 CPS. Propensity score weighting was used to adjust for respondents' propensity to be online.

Parents are defined as U.S. adults ages 18+ who have at least one person under the age of 18 living in their household at least 50% of the time for whom they are the parent or guardian.

Source:

American Psychological Association

Posted in: Medical Research News | Healthcare News

Tags: Alcohol, Children, Coronavirus, Education, Health Care, Language, Mental Health, Pandemic, Physical Activity, Psychology, Sleep, Stress, students, Trauma, Vaccine

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Mobile app helps young adults talk with friends about risky drug, alcohol use

Mobile app helps young adults talk with friends about risky drug, alcohol use

A smartphone app called Harbor, currently under development by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, teaches young adults how to talk to a peer if they are concerned about that other person’s drinking or drug use.

Designed for people ages 18-29, Harbor teaches young adults how they can “act as first responders for their close friends who demonstrate risky substance use behaviors,” according to the app’s lead developer, social work professor Douglas C. Smith. Smith, the director of the Center for Prevention Research and Development at the U. of I., focuses his research on substance use and interventions for young people.

While young adults have the highest rates of substance use, they are also the people least likely to seek treatment, he said.

“If you’re an individual who gets referred to treatment, or who is in need of treatment, it’s pretty likely that people in your social network are worried about you,” he said. “And there’s probably a mix of people in your social network who also have elevated substance use as well.”

In an online survey of more than 450 young adults conducted for the current study, 45% of the respondents indicated that they were concerned about a close friend’s drug or alcohol use. The study was published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research.

“If they’re responding affirmatively to that question, there’s a good chance their friend is probably using at some sort of risky level,” said graduate student Kyle M. Bennett, the first author of the study.

“They’re probably not just an occasional user; they’re probably going out frequently and experiencing some of those nasty side effects of whatever substance they may be using.”

However, while many young people may be troubled by friends’ drug or alcohol use, many of them are also uncertain how to talk with them about it, Bennett said.

“You hear this often: ‘I would have done something, but I just didn’t know what to do or I didn’t know what to say or how to approach the topic,'” Bennett said. “The Harbor app guides them in supporting their friend without being confrontational or enabling.”

The app prompts the user to answer several questions about their friend’s substance use behaviors and provides feedback on the potential seriousness—a feature that may be especially helpful to people who feel conflicted about intervening, Smith said.

Smith said the idea for the mobile phone app sprang from a prior project, funded by a five-year grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, that explored the efficacy of having young people with alcohol or marijuana problems invite a close friend to participate in some of their treatment sessions with them to provide social support.

“Since young adults have really low rates of coming to treatment, we thought that this peer model might be a way of expanding the benefits of treatment to people who don’t usually seek it,” Smith said. “A surprising finding from that study was that both the client and their friend made changes in their substance use behaviors and got better within six months.”

That study, published in the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment in 2015, found that both the client and their friend reduced their binge drinking and increased the number of days that they abstained. Smith’s co-authors were Western Ontario University psychology professor Tara Dumas and then-U. of I. graduate students Jordan P. Davis and the late Daniel J. Ureche.

Harbor provides the app user with possible text messages and dialogues for conveying their concerns to their friend. Smith said a challenge for the team was writing messages that could be applied in differing situations without being overly generic and that also sounded conversational and reflected young people’s speech patterns.

“Ultimately, you’re trying to communicate a message while encouraging them to adopt some of these practices and empowering them to put it in their own words when they talk with their friend,” Smith said.

When young adults in the study reviewed the sample scripts and messages, “more than 95% of them indicated the scripts would be useful in talking with their friends about their substance use,” Bennett said. “And about 98% of respondents rated the script dialogues as realistic. If young adults felt the language in the scripts was inauthentic, I think it’s safe to assume they would be less likely to use the app.”

Participants also were asked to evaluate the language in the app’s messages and rate each of them as supportive, enabling or confrontational. While most of the participants accurately identified the enabling and confrontational responses, they were less consistent at recognizing the supportive responses, Smith said.

The researchers were uncertain why that occurred but said it may have been because participants had not been given the app’s educational module first and lacked the information or personal experience to accurately interpret supportive responses.

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Luxury-Doctors want to cure a hangover in 30 seconds

Bacon and eggs, tea or Aspirin? There is countless advice on how to fight a hangover the best. In the USA, tired party can let the lions now be back in half an hour and fit. The treatment is expensive – but for financial people, apparently, Gold.

On its Website, the I. V. promise Doctors (pronounced “Ivy Doctors”) to make cat patients in 30 minutes fit again: Who in the morning with a Hangover, wakes up, and just ordered a nurse to your home, Hotel or office, it says. You care for the suffering, then with an Infusion, which fills up the fluid balance of the body and the hangover with electrolytes and vitamins to combat.

In the offer of the service, treatments, the flu and stomach ailments, to alleviate and to combat jet lag, muscle soreness or General fatigue to help.

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70 nurses in the use

But who wants to be treat, has to dig deep in the bag: Between 199 and 249 dollars for the treatments that are available on the Website in a deal cost.

“CNN”, according to the New York urologist Elliot Nadelson and his son Adam founded, a surgeon, the service last December. More than 70 nurses Adam worked Nadelson to be now for the two in New York and in the middle of the Hamptons, where New York’s rich have a rest on the sea.

“A miracle cure it is not”

Their clients included European aristocrats and Olympic Stars, so Nadelson. However, the majority came from the financial sector. They often worked many hours, would have to in the evening to keep up late into the night, and your customers happy, and early the next Morning, back to full performance.

One of them said to “CNN”: “A miracle cure it is. Nothing cures a hangover to 100 percent. But if you feel like a Two and a half hour later, as a Seven, it changes the game.“

 

Brewery boss: So you drink beer without the hangover risk

 

New research shows declining alcohol and cigarette use in New Zealand youth

A new study co-led by a Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington researcher shows that cigarette smoking is now rare in high school students, and binge drinking has declined since 2012.

These are some of the latest findings from the Youth19 Rangatahi smart study, part of the Youth2000 survey series, which has been running since 2001.

Less than three percent of high school aged students report lighting up weekly or more often, a decline from five percent in 2012. Binge drinking has declined but remains relatively common, with more than one in five students reporting binge drinking in the past month.

Weekly marijuana use is consistent with previous years’ findings, and vaping has emerged as a new issue.

Associate Professor Terryann Clark from the University of Auckland, co-lead on the study, says these results are really encouraging, but it should be noted that there are still ethnic and socioeconomic disparities in terms of harm from these substances.

“The findings show large declines in drinking and smoking across all ethnic and socioeconomic groups over the past 18 years. But the overall decline in smoking hides the fact that Māori, Pacific, and low-income communities and small towns continue to bear a disproportionate burden of smoking harm,” she says.

In contrast, binge drinking was equally common across all school deciles, with students from higher income communities more likely to report binge drinking. Binge drinking was also more common among older students and those living in rural areas and small towns compared with urban areas.

Study co-author Dr. Jude Ball, from the University of Otago, says the evidence shows that young people are starting to drink at an older age, which could be contributing to the decline.

The study found that binge drinking is now relatively uncommon in younger adolescents, but among those aged 17 or older, 42 percent reported binge drinking in the past month.

“Actions to prevent underage drinking and reduce alcohol harm remain vitally important and should be strengthened,” she says. “For example, we support calls to ban alcohol sponsorship in sport.”

Weekly marijuana use amongst students is lower than in 2001 but has not changed significantly since 2012. Other drug use, including synthetics, P, and huffing, is very low among secondary school aged students and has not increased.

Vaping has emerged as a new issue, with 12 percent of secondary school students reporting vaping monthly, and 8 percent weekly. Weekly vaping was more common among higher income communities.

Dr. Terry (Theresa) Fleming from the University’s Faculty of Health and co-lead on the study says that these findings show that it is possible to improve health and wellbeing among young people in important ways.

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