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Children under 15 ‘should not drink alcohol’, says government

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The Government’s chief medical officer has warned children under 15 should never drink alcohol as it poses a serious risk of harm.

Sir Liam Donaldson said research found drinking when young can affect brain development, but despite the potential damage a ‘massive number’ of young people drank routinely in the UK.

He said: ‘We’re trying to get the message across that children aged under 15 are still developing, their brains are developing, and drinking alcohol can do some quite serious damage.’

He said surveys found parents are ‘quite confused about the medical and health implications of children drinking alcohol’, and the new advice is to help parents regulate their child's alcohol intake.

Figures show that by the time they are 15, most young people in the UK have drunk alcohol, with a third of a million 11-15 years old on a typical weekend drinking.

Sir Liam said: ‘That's a massive number and we've got to do something about it.’

According to Government figures, 630,000 children aged 11 to 17 in the UK drink alcohol more than once a week and one in five 15-year-olds say they first got drunk when they were 13 or younger.

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Readers' comments (1)

  • At last the government has taken the right stance about juvenile alcohol use. The liver is an amazing organ but is susceptable to abuse. With recent estimates putting public adult drinking over the reccomended limit at about 1/3, it's about time we tackled this massive problem.
    If your young son/daughter drinks alcohol it can be like giving them poison, juvenile livers are too under developed to deal with it. I have nursed the young women who have mistakenly thought they can "keep up with the lads", only to find thier liver thought otherwise and just gave up.
    Enjoy alcohol sensibly and enjoy your liver!

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