December 16, 2010 / 3:25 PM / 7 years ago

Young U.S. Latinos vulnerable to homicide, crashes: study

BOSTON (Reuters Life!) - The death rate among young Latino men in the United States has risen in recent years, pushed up by a higher incidence of homicide and car crashes.

A study led by the Yale School of Medicine said higher mortality for young men is at odds with the generally better health profile for the U.S. Latino population, sometimes termed the Latino Epidemiologic Paradox.

U.S. Latinos have better health than non-Latino whites -- based on indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality and death from cardiovascular disease -- despite higher rates of poverty, lower education, and limited access to healthcare.

The study appears in the advance online edition of the journal Injury Prevention.

The Yale-led team studied more than 1.8 million deaths in California from 1999 to 2006, and found deaths from homicide or car crashes were significantly higher for young Latinos than for young non-Latino white men.

“Some of this deals with the context in which injuries occur as well as with developmental factors that influence risk-taking behavior in adolescents,” said Federico Vaca, professor of emergency medicine at Yale School of Medicine in New Haven, Connecticut.

Prevention measures geared toward this vulnerable group are urgently needed, Vaca said.

The peak discrepancy in Latino vs non-Latino white mortality came between the ages of 20 and 24 years and appears to be widening.

Male homicide rates for Latinos increased over the study period, although they were below the rates reported for the years 1989 to 1997, the study said.

The motor vehicle crash mortality rate among young Latinos exceeded the rate for non-Latino whites overall and for each year during 2003 to 2006.

For young females, though, the same trend was not seen. Latinas had lower mortality rates than non-Latina white females for all ages over 15.

The Latino population’s growth rate in the United States between 2000 and 2006 was three times that of the total population.

Reporting by Ros Krasny; Editing by Jerry Norton

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