Alcohol was a factor in almost 42,000 cases of children under 18 being admitted to English hospitals in the last three years, official figures showed today.
Teleghapf.co.uk – Published: 11:25AM GMT 28 Jan 2010
In 2008/09 under-age drinkers were admitted with alcohol-related conditions on 12,832 occasions.
The figures, released by Public Health Minister Gillian Merron in a Commons written answer, show a decline from the level in 2007/08 when there were 14,501 admissions.
North/South divide in problem drinking uncovered
Up to 1,000 people a day admitted to hospital for alcohol-related illness
Children admitted to hospital due to alcohol increasing
One child under 12 admitted to hospital every 48 hours after binge-drinking
Minimum alcohol price ‘could halve hospital admissions for drinking’In 2006/7 there were a total of 14,465 admissions with a primary or secondary alcohol-related diagnosis.
In 2008/09, there were 4,736 cases where there was a primary alcohol-related diagnosis and 8,096 where drink was a secondary factor.
In 2007/08 the figures were 5,582 primary alcohol-related diagnosis cases and 8,919 secondary cases.
In 2006/07 the figures were 5,904 primary cases and 8,561 secondary cases.
The 2008/09 figures show the highest number of admissions were in the North West, where there were 2,548 alcohol-related cases.
The lowest number of cases was in the south central area, with 849 admissions.
A Government spokesman said that although there had been a fall in admissions the figure remained ”unacceptably high”.
He said: ”Alcohol can have a devastating effect on children and young people.
”Recent figures show that fewer young people are being admitted to hospital with alcohol-related illnesses but the figure is still unacceptably high.
”The Government is taking a range of measures to help ensure every child and young person grows up with a safe and sensible relationship with alcohol.
”The new ‘Why let drink decide?’ campaign encourages parents to talk to their children at an earlier age about the risks associated with drinking.
”Ultimately we want to delay the age at which young people start drinking and to provide families with the expert advice and information they need to help their children make sensible decisions about alcohol.
”The Government is also toughening up the enforcement of under-age sales with a ‘two strikes and you are out’ rule on licence holders.”
The new mandatory code for alcohol retailers will make age verification obligatory in all pubs and bars, the spokesman added.
The data was released in response to a request from shadow home office minister James Brokenshire.
The statistics follow the publication of figures which showed the extent of alcohol abuse in British children.
The NHS Information Centre data showed children in the North East each drink the equivalent of almost two bottles of wine a week.
Children aged 11 to 15 who are drinkers consume 17.7 units on average – the equivalent of almost two bottles of wine or almost eight pints of lager.
Boys consume the most, at 20.2 units a week on average, while girls drink 15.5 units.
In the North West and Yorkshire, boys and girls drink 16.3 units on average, while the figure is 14.2 in the West Midlands, 16.1 in the East Midlands, 13 in the East of England and 11.3 in London.
In the South East, children drink 13.5 units a week while in the South West the figure is 14.2.