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Adrift in a perfect storm of health risks

Lawrence Neinstein, professor of pediatrics and medicine

The health status of emerging young adults 18 to 25 years of age is the focus of a study by Lawrence Neinstein, professor of pediatrics and medicine at the Keck School of Medicine of USC.

According to Neinstein, these “new adolescents” face greater behavioral and nonbehavioral health risks, a lower perception of risk and the least access to care and the highest uninsured rate in California and the United States.

“Emerging young adults are adrift in a perfect storm of health risks,” said Neinstein, executive director of the Engemann Student Health Center and senior associate dean of student affairs. “This population needs health care coverage that is beyond catastrophic health issues but is broad enough to cover many health risks.”

Neinstein’s study examines the health risks faced by 34.6 million emerging young adults who are between adolescence and young adulthood — a potential period of increased health risks at a time when they often separate from home and parents.

Research has shown evidence of brain development still significantly occurring in this age group, as well as an increased delay in the attainment of traditional milestones, such as completing school, leaving home, becoming financially independent and having children.

The study was produced to provide health care providers, networks, institutions and policymakers with the data needed to make informed decisions about broad health care coverage and health prevention interventions in emerging young adults.

A national emerging young adult health agenda — including health care research, programs and national and state policies regarding delivery and access to health care — must be developed for this at-risk age group, according to Neinstein.

For more information on the study, visit usc.edu/thenewadolescents

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