September 12, 2008

Study Shows Correlation Between Number of Alcohol Retailers and Youth Injuries

Children who live in neighborhoods with a high number of alcohol outlets may be at a higher risk of personal injury, according to a research study that will be published in the November 2008 issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

"Neighborhoods with a high number of alcohol outlets can make the children who live there vulnerable to injury in a variety of ways," said Bridget Freisthler, the lead researcher of the study. "First, greater densities of off-premise alcohol outlets may increase the frequency of drinking among parents at home, undermining their ability to adequately supervise their children's activities. Second, greater densities may increase the number of people who travel in and out of the neighborhood to shop or dine at restaurants, making it more difficult for residents to know who lives in the area and who is just conducting business there. Thus, other adults in the area may be less likely to intervene when they see unsupervised children playing," said Freisthler.

The study, a joint project between UCLA and the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE) funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), is based on the analysis of data from more than 1,600 California zip code and corresponding hospital discharges for childhood injuries, assaults and injuries related to child abuse from the year 2000.

"Impoverished and disorganized neighborhoods may have a limited ability to deal with the negative effects related to high densities of alcohol outlets in their community and often present more physically dangerous environments like vacant housing or more dangerous streets," said Freisthler. "I certainly hope that our findings will lead to changes in how communities look at the presence of alcohol outlets and the consequences they may have on their families. This is just one in a series of studies showing the impact of alcohol outlets on our health, safety and welfare."

Childhood injuries constitute a serious issue in the United States. In 2001, there were 12,249 deaths among children ages one to 14, of which injury was the leading cause of death.

About this Study

An Ecological Assessment of the Population and Environmental Correlates of Childhood Accident, Assault and Child Abuse Injuries, was co-authored by: Bridget Freisthler, Paul J. Gruenewald, and Elizabeth A. LaScala of the Prevention Research Center at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation; and Lori Ring of the UCLA Department of Social Welfare. For a full copy of the manuscript please contact Mary Newcomb with the ACER Editorial Office at [email protected], or visit

About PIRE

PIRE is one of the nation's preeminent independent, nonprofit organizations merging scientific knowledge and proven practice to improve the health and safety of communities around the world. PIRE conducts research and evaluation and provides training and technical assistance on a wide range of public health and safety issues.