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"Our findings in girls, especially in the older girls, really surprised us," study first author Dr. Sarah Wiehe, an assistant professor of pediatrics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said in a news release from the school. "We do not know why older girls who perceived discrimination were less likely to smoke, but there may be a possibility that they perceived discrimination because they were pregnant and also that they did not smoke due to pregnancy."
The study included 2,561 black and Hispanic teens, aged 12 to 19, living in low-income households in Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and New York. About 25% of the teens reported discrimination within the previous six months, and 12% said they'd smoked within the previous 30 days.
"Boys and girls may experience discrimination differently due to where they spend their time and that may account for the differences in whether discrimination was associated with smoking," Wiehe said. "In other words, the context of discrimination matters. We need to be aware that discrimination is a public health problem for adolescents -- one related to major health issues like smoking -- and need to actively work to reduce these occurrences."
The study appears online and in the March print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.
-- Robert Preidt
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