THURSDAY, July 12, 2018 (HealthDay News) — Parental incarceration (PI) is associated with lower health care use and unhealthy behaviors among adolescents and young adults, according to a study published online July 9 in Pediatrics.

Nia Heard-Garris, M.D., from the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the correlation between mother incarceration (MI) and father incarceration (FI), health care use, and three dimensions of health behaviors for 13,084 participants of the National Longitudinal Survey of Adolescent to Adult Health.

More than 10 percent of the sample had a history of PI before age 18 years. The researchers found that history of MI and FI correlated with forgone health care (adjusted odds ratios [aORs], 1.65 and 1.22, respectively), prescription drug abuse (aORs, 1.61 and 1.46, respectively), and 10 or more lifetime sexual partners (aORs, 1.55 and 1.19, respectively). There was a correlation for MI with elevated likelihood of emergency department use (aOR, 2.36), while a correlation was seen for FI with illicit injection drug use (aOR, 2.54).

“The effects of incarceration extend beyond incarcerated individuals. PI histories are associated with lower health care use and unhealthy behaviors in young adulthood,” the authors write. “By addressing barriers to health care and health-harming behaviors, health care providers and policy makers may reduce health disparities among this population.”

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