14/08/2014 16:48 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Children As Young As Seven Admitted To Hospital With Alcohol Addiction

Children as young as seven admitted to hospital with alcohol addiction

Children as young as seven have been admitted to hospital with alcohol addiction.

The most alarming case involved a little boy said to be 'addicted' to alcohol who was treated at a hospital in Sussex.

The Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust described his diagnosis as 'alcohol intoxication' and the reason for his attendance as 'alcohol related'.

"The primary diagnosis was a mental and behavioural disorder due to acute intoxication with alcohol," a report said.

The case is the tip of the iceberg of disturbing new figures which reveal that dozens of under-10s have been hospitalised suffering from mental and behavioural disorders due to alcohol use.

The incidents have been uncovered by the Ferrari Press Agency, using a Freedom of Information request.

It found that of England's 166 NHS hospital trusts, a total of 380 children aged 10 or under were treated for alcohol intoxication between 2008 and 2012.

The figures may be even higher because 67 of the trusts approached either failed or refused to act on the request.

In one case, a 10-year-old boy was admitted to a hospital in Devon after drinking so much he collapsed.

Meanwhile, at least 25 girls and boys aged between seven and ten were taken to hospital in England between 2008 and 2012 to get help for an alcohol-induced disorder.

And hundreds more children were rushed to A&E because they were drunk, though not necessarily suffering from an ongoing issue with alcohol. In some of the cases it is likely the alcohol was consumed accidentally.

In one example, a two-year-old boy was rushed to a hospital run by Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust last year after accidentally drinking vodka.

And in another case, a baby who hadn't even turned one was hospitalised in Gloucestershire after sustaining a head injury while intoxicated with alcohol.

Nick Barton, chief executive of the charity Action on Addiction, said children who suffered from alcohol problems were likely to have an alcoholic parent.

He said: "Children who grow up in homes where their parents have alcohol and drug problems are seven times more likely to develop substance misuse problems themselves.

"A recent study indicated that 22 per cent of children live with a parent who drinks hazardously.

"A particularly worrying finding was the lack of awareness among parents about the effects of their drinking on their children.

"These children are at risk in a variety of ways, from disruption of family life, social isolation and a threat to safety as a result of parents' alcohol related behaviour, to the accessibility of alcohol. Often they assume the parental role."

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