Hospital Visits for Underage Drinking Soar on July 4 Weekend

THURSDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- The number of hospital emergency department visits associated with underage drinking nearly double over the Fourth of July weekend, a new U.S. government study says.

An analysis of 2008 data found that daily, underage drinking-related visits to hospital emergency departments were 87% higher on a Fourth of July weekend day than on an average July day -- 938 visits vs. 502 visits, said the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

"Underage drinking is not a harmless right of passage. It has far-reaching consequences. In addition to emergency department visits, injuries, arrests and embarrassment, 5,000 deaths in people under age 21 are linked to alcohol each year," SAMHSA Administrator Pamela S. Hyde said in an agency news release.

"Parents are a leading influence in their children's decision to avoid alcohol. To help parents make the tough job of raising children a little easier, SAMHSA provides an online action plan to help parents talk with their children about expectations regarding alcohol use," Hyde added.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, July 1, 2010, news release.