There were more than five times as many teenage admissions to one of the State’s main children’s hospitals due to alcohol use last year compared with 2015, new figures show.
Alcohol-related cases among children aged between 13 and 17 dropped to a four-year low at Temple Street Children’s Hospital in 2015, when just four such patients were admitted and later discharged. However, the number spiked significantly to 21 last year – the highest recorded since 2012.
Of these, 13 involved 15- year-olds, six were aged 14 and two were 13.
Overall, 64 children under 18 were treated for alcohol-related issues across Dublin’s three main children’s hospitals last year, up from 51 in 2015. This rise was almost wholly driven by the increasing number of cases at Temple Street.
The figures, which were disclosed following a Freedom of Information request, are believed to to significantly underestimate the number of children treated for alcohol-related problems as the numbers given by hospitals only represent day and in-patient cases.
Representatives of the hospitals in question – including the National Children's Hospital Tallaght, Our Lady's Children's Hospital Crumlin and Temple Street – said the reasons for emergency department admissions are not collated and therefore such cases are excluded from the data.
The figures obtained from children’s hospitals also reveal that infants have been treated for exposure to alcoholic substances over recent years.
At least seven children aged six and under received treatment for ingesting alcohol since 2012.
These admissions are likely to have been caused by children gaining access to bath oils and hand gels containing methanol, an alcohol that is poisonous to humans.
Statistics compiled by the
also show more than 100 children were treated specifically for alcohol poisoning across the State’s acute hospitals between 2012 and 2015. Figures requested for 2016 were not yet available.
Tables recently published by the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs show alcohol use is now less common among Irish children compared to the youth populations of most continental countries.