Child development 'damaged by alcohol'

Children should avoid alcohol completely before the age of 15 and not drink on more than one day a week before the age of 18, the Government's chief medical officer said yesterday.

At least 500,000 children aged 11-15 get drunk every month and the number has doubled since 1990, Sir Liam Donaldson said. Alcohol harms the developing brain, causing memory problems and difficulty with finding words. It also has damaging effects on hormone levels, bone density and growth.

In official guidance on drinking by young people, published today, following a public consultation earlier this year, Sir Liam said most parents backed his advice that avoiding alcohol completely before the age of 15 was the healthiest option.

He rejected as a “middle class obsession” the idea that younger children should be introduced to alcohol with an occasional glass of wine diluted with water or equivalent.

“There is no evidence to support the idea that you should wean children onto alcohol at an early age so they get used to it. The evidence shows that the earlier children are introduced to alcohol the more likely they are to get a taste for it and become binge drinkers as teenagers and heavy drinkers as adults,” Sir Liam said.

Ian Gilmour, president of the Royal College of Physicians and a prominent campaigner for greater restrictions on alcohol, said Sir Liam was taking an “understandably cautious” line on early drinking.

“In strong families with good parental support it is perfectly reasonable to introduce alcohol to children before the age of 15 in a controlled environment. as the French are traditionally supposed to do. But you cannot generalise”

Professor Gilmour, a liver specialist, said the way parents introduced their children to drink was key. “They should set an example. Saying ‘Don’t do as I do, do as I tell you,’ doesn’t work,” he said.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware, said:

“The drinking culture in the UK is entrenched and many young people see drinking alcohol as a rite of passage. It’s imperative that from an early age, we start to educate children and young people about the dangers of alcohol misuse.”

Arts and Entertainment
Louis Theroux: By Reason of Insanity takes him behind the bars again
tvBy Reason of Insanity, TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Cassetteboy's latest video is called Emperor's New Clothes rap
videoThe political parody genius duo strike again with new video
Sport
Seth Rollins cashes in his Money in the Bank contract to win the WWE World Heavyweight Championship
WWERollins win the WWE World Heavyweight title in one of the greatest WrestleMania's ever seen
Arts and Entertainment
Jim Davidson performs his comedy show at Edinburgh Festival 2014
TV
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: IT Buyer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This award winning IT company are currently re...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Account Manager

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineers

    £28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Breakdown Engineer...

    Day In a Page

    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
    Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

    Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
    Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

    The only direction Zayn could go

    We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
    Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

    Spells like teen spirit

    A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
    Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

    British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
    Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

    Licence to offend in the land of the free

    Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
    From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

    From farm to fork in Cornwall

    One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
    Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

    Robert Parker interview

    The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

    We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor