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Child alcohol admissions up by a third

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The number of under-18s admitted to hospital because of drinking has increased by a third, according to a new report.

The figure went up by 32% between 2002 and 2007, with 36 children a day being admitted for alcohol related conditions, the study by the charity Alcohol Concern found.

Over the last five years, London Ambulance Service responded to 11,780 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s at a cost of more than £2.5m, the research showed.

In 2009/10, West Midlands Ambulance Service responded to 1,296 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s at a cost of almost £250,000, while the North East Ambulance Trust responded to just under 1,000 at a cost of £175,000.

In all cases, more young girls were seen by ambulance crews than young boys, the charity said.

Alcohol Concern also found that between 2004 and 2009 28% more girls were admitted to hospital via accident and emergency departments for alcohol than boys - 23,347 girls compared to 18,159 boys.

The report ‘Right time, right place: Alcohol-harm reduction strategies with children and young people’ calls for earlier identification of young people engaged in ‘risky’ drinking such as young people attending A&E or getting into trouble with the police for alcohol, so they can access information, advice and support.

The charity’s chief executive, Don Shenker, said: “As long as alcohol remains as heavily promoted as it currently is, young drinkers will continue to consume far more than they might otherwise, leading to inevitable health harms, wasting ambulance and police time.

“As well as tackling the ludicrously cheap price of alcohol in some settings, we want all under-18-year-olds who turn up at A&E to be advised and supported to address their drinking.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said: “This report shows the devastating impact that alcohol has on the lives of young people who drink too much. We must educate them so they understand how bad it is for their health now and in the long term. And we must do more to stop shops selling alcohol to under 18s.

“Everyone has a part to play in this. Parents, police, education and social services need to work together. The new public health service will give communities the power and budget to tackle alcohol problems in their areas.”

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