Pediatrics and underage drinking


The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a policy statement underscoring the critical role pediatricians play in discouraging children and teens from drinking alcohol. The policy statement, "Alcohol Use by Youth and Adolescents: A Pediatric Concern," will appear in the May issue of Pediatrics.

Alcohol consumption can interfere with adolescent brain development, and use of alcohol early in life is associated with future alcohol-related problems, because it:

-- Contributes to the leading causes of teen deaths: accidental injury, homicide, and suicide;

-- Increases greatly the chances teens will engage in other risky actions such as substance use, unsafe sex, and violent behavior;

-- Affects developing brains and general health, including possibly harming liver function and ability to fight infections.

The authors recommend additional research into prevention, screening and identification, brief intervention and management, and treatment of alcohol and other substance use by adolescents.