17/12/2009

Warning On Under-15s Drinking

England's top doctor has warned parents against giving alcohol to children under the age of 15.

Launching guidance on the issue, Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson said public consultation found parents backed the ban on alcohol for under-15s.

Sir Liam's five-point recommendations state an alcohol-free childhood is the healthiest and best option.

If children drink alcohol, it shouldn't be before they reach 15-years-old, the guidance says.

If young people aged 15 and 17 drink alcohol, it should always be with the guidance of a parent or carer or in a supervised environment.

The Chief Medical Officer said parents and young people should be aware that drinking, even at age 15 or older, can be hazardous to health and not drinking is the healthiest option.

"If children aged 15 to 17 drink alcohol they should do so infrequently and certainly on no more than one day a week," said Sir Liam.

They should never drink more than the adult daily limits recommended by the NHS, the newly published guidance says.

Government has stressed the importance of parental influences on children's alcohol use.

"Parents and carers need advice on how to respond to alcohol use and misuse by children," said Sir Liam.

Support services must be available for children and young people who have alcohol-related problems and their parents, the guidance states.

According to Sir Liam, half a million children between the ages of 11 and 15 years in England will have been drunk in the past four weeks.

"The science is clear. Drinking particularly at a young age, a lack of parental supervision, exposing children to drink-fuelled events and failing to engage with them as they grow up are the root causes from which our country’s serious alcohol problem has developed," he added.

(PR/KMcA)

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