Belfast Telegraph

More than 300 Northern Ireland children hospitalised for alcohol poisoning in six years

More than 300 children were admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning.
More than 300 children were admitted to hospital for alcohol poisoning.
Mark Edwards

By Mark Edwards

New figures reveal more than 300 children have been admitted to hospital in Northern Ireland to be treated for alcohol poisoning in the last six years.

The BBC reports that in 2013 1,389 people in Northern Ireland were treated for alcohol poisioning. This fell to 838 by 2017.

There was no reduction in the average number of children admitted.

However, last year 53 under-18s were admitted to hospitals in Northern Ireland- up from 45 in 2013.

The figures come after a study by the World Health Organisation found a dramatic drop in drinking among young people in England.

The study, published in September, reported 65% of 16-17 year olds said they drank alcohol, compared to 88% in 2001.

No statistics are available for Northern Ireland.

Alcohol poisoning, in the most severe cases, can lead to coma, brain damage and death.

Fra Stone, from the Community Drugs Programme, told the BBC: "Alcohol is part of everyday life, we are bombarded by alcohol advertisements everywhere we go, and it is portrayed as a fun thing to do.

"Young people witness their parents and older members of their family drinking at home from a very young age, so it is seen as acceptable."

Mr Stone said that parents were buying children alcohol to drink at home instead of out on the street.

"Parents who do this have broken the taboo regarding alcohol with their children," he said.

"Instead of teaching responsibility, they are, in the young person's eyes, encouraging them to drink."

Between 2001 and 2016, more than 3,500 deaths in Northern Ireland were attributed to excess drinking.

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