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Body Piercing and Tattooing Prevalent Among University Students
Released: 1/9/2002 12:00 AM EST
Embargo expired: 1/8/2002 5:00 AM EST
Source: Mayo Clinic

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Mayo Clinic Proceedings study reports significant incidence of medical complications among body-pierced students

ROCHESTER, MINN. -- A survey of university undergraduate students revealed that more than one-half had some type of body piercing and 17 percent suffered a medical complication from the piercing, the authors report in the January issue of Mayo Clinic Proceedings.

In the same study, no medical complications were reported among the 23 percent of students with tatoos. The study did find that male varsity athletes were more likely to have tattoos compared with male non-athletes.

The study is the first to survey the prevalence of body piercing and tattooing in a sizable and representative population of university undergraduate students, according to the authors.

"Body art is prevalent among undergraduate university students, and there is significant incidence of medical complications among students with piercing," said Lester B. Mayers, M.D., of the Pace University Athletic Department's Division of Sports Medicine and the primary author of the study. "If our prevalence and complication rates are representative for this age group, these morbid events comprise a considerable demand on and cost to the heath care system."

In female students, the navel (29 percent) was the body site most often reported pierced, followed closely by the ear (27 percent) (not including earlobes). In males, the ear (31 percent) was the body site with the most reported piercings. Of piercing complications, bacterial infection was the most reported complication, followed by bleeding and injury or tearing at the site.

Although there were no reported medical complications with tattooing, the researchers noted that it might be too early to detect infection with hepatitis B, hepatitis C or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Since the study was based on self-reporting by students, more studies are required to delineate accurately the medical complication rates that are reported because some students may not possess a high degree of medical sophistication.

Surveys were completed by 454 of 481 undergraduate students at Pace University in Pleasantville, N.Y., between February and May, 2001. The researchers said that, while performing routine medical examinations, they observed that piercing and tattooing were common among students at Pace University. The study reported a 51 percent incidence of body piercing and 23 percent incidence of tattooing among university students.

Other authors who contributed to the work with Dr. Mayers included Daniel A. Judelson, B.S., Barry W. Moriarty, A.T.C., and Kenneth W. Rundell, Ph.D. Moriarty, as is Dr. Mayers, is from the Pace University Athletic Department's Division of Sports Medicine. Dr. Rundell and Judelson are from the Sports Science and Technology Division of the U.S. Olympic Committee.

Mayo Clinic Proceedings is a peer-reviewed and indexed general internal medicine journal, published for 75 years by Mayo Foundation, with a circulation of 130,000 nationally and internationally.

Source: NewsWise

Elizabeth Polin, DDS

American Dental Arts

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