Student Well-Being

Health Update

March 13, 2002 4 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

No Common Cause Found For Outbreaks of Rashes

A national investigation of recent outbreaks of rashes among schoolchildren in more than a dozen states has found no common cause, according to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Since October, state and local health departments in 14 states have reported such outbreaks, usually among elementary school pupils who developed rashes on their faces, necks, hands, or arms that lasted anywhere from a few hours to two weeks.

“Rashes Among Schoolchildren—14 States, October 4, 2001—February 27, 2002,” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, summarizes investigations into student rash outbreaks.

The outbreaks have affected from 10 to 600 people at a time, according to a report released March 1 by the Atlanta-based CDC. Clinicians who examined the children listed a number of possible sources for the rashes, including viruses, chemical exposure, and poison ivy.

The CDC requested reports from all 50 states on any outbreaks of rashes, but found differences in the cases reported and no common root for the occurrences.

“With 53 million young people attending 117,000 schools each school day in the United States, it is expected that rashes from a wide range of causes will be observed,” the study concluded.

Such outbreaks are usually the result of bacterial or viral infections or environmental factors, according to the report.

But health officials tentatively concluded that the rashes probably weren’t caused by “infectious agents” because none of the children who developed the rashes suffered from symptoms such as fevers or headaches.

Outbreaks were reported in Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Mississippi, New York state, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington state, and West Virginia.

Debate Over Drinking

A Columbia University-based research organization has acknowledged a research flaw in its recent report on underage drinking, but appears to be sticking to its controversial estimate that young people under 21 drink at least a quarter of all the alcohol consumed in the United States.

That figure was widely reported by several prominent news organizations that received the information on a press release for “Teen Tipplers: America’s Underage Drinking Epidemic,” a report issued Feb. 26 by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, or CASA. The center’s president, Joseph A. Califano Jr., was the U.S. secretary of health, education, and welfare in the Carter administration.

Read the report, “Teen Tipplers: America’s Underage Drinking Epidemic,” from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. (Requires Adobe’s Acrobat Reader.) A summary is also available.

The center at Columbia drew on data from the Household Survey on Drug Abuse, a yearly poll of 25,500 people conducted by the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The CASA report concluded that 5 million high school students, or 31 percent, admitted to “binge” drinking at least once a month.

But an article in The New York Times took issue with the 25-percent-of-all-drinking finding.

The household survey includes nearly 10,000 people ages 12 to 20, an oversample designed to ensure that there would be enough data from young people to make findings from the survey statistically valid.

“So young people made up almost 40 percent of the survey, although they make up less than 20 percent of the population,” the Feb. 27 New York Times article pointed out. “In estimating their share of alcohol consumption, the center did not adjust the data to account for the oversampling.”

Once the adjustment is made, the figure for the proportion of alcohol consumed by Americans under 21 drops to 11.4 percent. Federal officials agreed with the newspaper’s conclusion and posted a press release on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Web site that cited 11.4 percent as the correct figure.

The Columbia center promptly acknowledged the oversight. But CASA also contended in a Feb. 26 statement that the 11.4 percent figure likely does not come close to reflecting the extent of the country’s underage-drinking problem. That’s because, the center says:

  • The household survey underestimates the level of alcohol consumption because it depends on self-reported data from young people, collected with parental permission while parents are in the next room.
  • The survey’s drinking data were based on a typical day’s drinks and didn’t account for binge drinking to get intoxicated. Underage drinkers were twice as likely as adult drinkers to have gotten drunk in the previous month, according to the center.
  • The survey does not include children under the age of 12.

“Adjusting for these facts could raise the estimate to 30 percent or more,” the center argues. “CASA’s estimate is that underage drinkers consume 25 percent of the alcohol consumed in the [United States]. But whether children and teens drink 15, 25, or 30 percent of the alcohol consumed, the reality is that America has an underage drinking epidemic.”

—Darcia Harris Bowman

Related Tags:

A version of this article appeared in the March 13, 2002 edition of Education Week as Health Update

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
School & District Management Webinar
Leadership in Education: Building Collaborative Teams and Driving Innovation
Learn strategies to build strong teams, foster innovation, & drive student success.
Content provided by Follett Learning
School & District Management K-12 Essentials Forum Principals, Lead Stronger in the New School Year
Join this free virtual event for a deep dive on the skills and motivation you need to put your best foot forward in the new year.
This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
Privacy & Security Webinar
Navigating Modern Data Protection & Privacy in Education
Explore the modern landscape of data loss prevention in education and learn actionable strategies to protect sensitive data.
Content provided by  Symantec & Carahsoft

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Student Well-Being When Social Media and Cellphones Are Lifelines to Kids Who Feel Different
Like it or not, social media is an important venue for teens to find community and hone their identities.
4 min read
Young girl looking on mobile phone screen with multicolored social media icons. Finding community, belonging. Contemporary art collage. Concept of social media, influence, online communication and connection.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock
Student Well-Being ‘It’s OK to Not Be on Your Phone’: An 18-Year-Old on Teaching Cellphone Etiquette
Whether it's asking permission to take a photo of someone or dimming a screen in a movie theater, kids need lessons in cellphone etiquette.
3 min read
Photo collage of hands holding phones with communication symbols superimposed. Learning phone etiquette.
Vanessa Solis/Education Week + iStock/Getty Images
Student Well-Being How Video Games Can Combat Chronic Absenteeism (Yes, Really)
In one district, middle school esports clubs are helping to boost attendance and student engagement.
5 min read
AA studio shot of a Mario Kart diecast vehicle from the video and animated Nintendo series.
iStock/Getty
Student Well-Being Teachers View Chronically Absent Students Less Favorably
Teachers report poorer relationships and lower academic perceptions of chronically absent students, research finds.
4 min read
Illustration with blue background and three bubbles, within those bubbles are a teacher and students. Two bubbles are connected.
Nadia Snopek/iStock/Getty