CHILDREN as young as two are being treated at hospital after becoming drunk or high on illegal drugs.
In 2010/11, 106 children were treated for the affects of excess alcohol at Wigan Infirmary’s Accident and Emergency unit and eight children – one as young as two – were treated for being under the influence of pyschotropic drugs.
The figures, obtained by the Wigan Evening Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, show that as well as drink and drugs some youngsters ended up in A&E afteringesting drugs, including overdoses, of medicine, controlled drugs and solvents.
They also revealed that:
Four children under the age of 12 were admitted for alcohol intoxication;.
One two-year-old and one three-year-old were admitted for poisoning by psychotropic drugs (e.g. illegal recreational drugs) as well as a nine-year-old;
116 youngsters were admitted having suffered from poisoning through diuretics (which help excrete water from the body) and other medical and biological substances;
70 children were treated for poisoning by the over-use of painkillers.
The news has been greeted with concern by the borough’s health chiefs.
Glen Berry, assistant director of health development for Ashton Leigh and Wigan PCT (ALWPCT), said: “These figures are very interesting – and very saddening.
“Looking firstly at the alcohol figures – the fact that 106 under-18s have had to have treatment at A&E is very worrying.
“Working in partnership with Local Authority colleagues we are aware of the good work done by Trading Standards in trying to ensure that pubs, off licenses and supermarkets do not serve under 18s.
“Unfortunately young people are still able to get hold of alcohol and surveys suggest much of this is provided by adults.
“The figures for 14 year olds (20 attendances) 15 year olds (25 attendances) 16 year olds (24 attendances) and 17 year olds (23 attendances) show what we know – despite all our best efforts young people do drink alcohol under age. The fact that so many have had to go to A&E after drinking probably reveals that young people not only drink under age – but sometimes drink far too much – and this can be very dangerous.
“The number of young people treated in A&E as a result of taking other drugs shows a similar picture.
“There are quite large numbers of one year olds (31 attendances) and two year olds (31 attendances) who have presumably managed to find drugs – possibly in the form of prescribed medicines for other members of the family. This underlines the importance of keeping all drugs and medicines in a safe locked cupboard.”
The news also brought fresh warnings about the dangers of alcohol from Wigan’s director of public health, Dr Kate Ardern.
She said: “Alcohol is a poison and the danger of it should not be under-estimated. These figures only relate to A&E attendances – it could be that many of these young people were so ill that they had to be admitted.
“All adults must try to make sure they act responsibly – it is important not to give alcohol to young people.
“Young people are influenced by how they see the adults around them behaving with drink – if they see these adults drinking heavily the chances are they will drink above the recommended units.”