Background The burden to healthcare systems following alcohol abuse across various ages has become a very huge cause of concern in recent times. At a time when NHS finances are being increasingly scrutinised to identify areas where cuts can be made, it is increasingly debated whether illnesses caused due to personal overindulgence need to be covered under the NHS umbrella. The actual impact of the problem can be assessed only if we have some demographics of drunken children This study looks at this aspect of children under the age of 18 years presenting to the A&E department in a North East District General Hospital over a year. It also assesses the use of referral pathways in place for these children by the A&E staff.
Design of study Retrospective review of all paediatric case notes in A&E over a one year period from 1st January 2010 to 31st December 2010, numbering approximately 12000 was undertaken. Children with history of or symptoms attributable wholly or partially to alcohol ingestion were identified for inclusion. Data was manually collected using a custom made proforma to identify the demographic characteristics, details of presentation and co morbidities. Data was entered onto an Access database and results analysed.
Results See table 1.
Conclusion Underage drinking and associated co morbidities are significant social issues that need to be addressed urgently in the community. The risky behaviour seems more common in 15-16 year age group and is commoner females. This group needs targeted intervention. As low blood sugar is a common occurrence in drunken states and contributes to increased morbidity, this needs to be regularly monitored in pre hospital setting. Less than 10% of children have been referred to available supportive services and this needs a serious review.