Journal of Child and Adolescent Health

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Research Article - Journal of Child and Adolescent Health (2021) Volume 5, Issue 4

Examination of alcohol use patterns in youth: A study of alcohol-related poisonings at a pediatric hospital in British Columbia, Canada

Objective: Identify alcohol use patterns among pediatric patients with alcohol-related poisonings to better inform current substance use programs on how youth poisonings could be addressed.

Methods: Alcohol-related poisonings treated in the emergency department [ED] at British Columbia Children’s Hospital [BCCH] between January 1, 2016, and December 31, 2019, were extracted from the Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program. The sample included all youth aged 16 years or younger and had intentionally consumed alcohol prior to their ED arrival. The hospital’s electronic health information system and patient’s health records were reviewed to collect additional information on their drinking practices. This included the types and amount of alcohol consumed, the location, as well as information from the individuals who sought medical treatment for the poisoned youth

Results: Of the 1,289 total poisonings treated at the BCCH ED, 434 were alcohol-related [33.7%]. The sample consisted of a majority of female youth [59.0%] with a median sample age of 15 years [IQR: 14-16 years]. The youngest was 11 years old and the oldest youth was 16 years. Most poisonings were unintentionally incurred. Few differences were observed in how male and female youth consumed alcohol. Overall, youth often binged on distilled alcohol, while with peers, in home environments, and at the end of the week. A few youths reported on the consumption of sweetened and/or flavoured alcohols. Intervention from bystanders, families, friends, and first responders was often needed to help the youth seek medical treatment at hospital. Most individuals were treated in the ED but a tenth of the patients were admitted into hospital for further care.

Conclusion: Alcohol-related harm continues to be a prevailing public health problem despite the establishment of national drinking guidelines and laws to discourage underage drinking. Continued efforts to educate and disseminate safe drinking practices among youth are especially crucial to mitigate alcohol poisonings during and post-COVID-19 pandemic.

Author(s): Phoebe Cheng, Atousa Zargaran, Fahra Rajabali, Kate Turcotte, Shelina Babul

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