The number of young teenagers hospitalised with alcohol poisoning has barely changed for years but they are getting slightly older, according to new figures published on Wednesday.
In total, 279 children ended up in hospital having drunk themselves into a coma last year, with an average age of 15.5, up from 15 in 2007, when records began, RTL Nieuws reported.
Doctor Nico van der Lely, who set up the register, told RTL that he now rarely sees children as young as 12 or 13, and that parents are more aware of the dangers.
Nevertheless, the regions which produce the most teenage drunks – Westland/Delft, Oost-Brabant, eastern parts of Gelderland and West Friesland – remain the same, he said.
One disturbing new trend is the increased use of cannabis, he said. Last year, 18.6% of the teenagers admitted to hospital with alcohol poisoning had used the drug, compared with just 8% in 2007.
According to recent research by the Trimbos addition centre, 47% of 12 to 16-year-olds had drunk alcohol at some point, 17% had smoked tobacco and 10% had smoked cannabis.
While children at trade schools are more likely to smoke that their peers in pre college and pre university streams, there is little difference in the use of alcohol and soft drugs, Trimbos said.
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