Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Advice on Alcohol

Martin Aplin on the touchline at North Petherton with two twelve year old girls.

CHILDREN should not be given any alcohol before they turn 15, parents have been warned. Britain's chief medical officer Sir Liam Donaldson said yesterday that between the ages of 15 and 18 youngsters should drink no more than once a week and only then under strict adult supervision.

He advised that parents who let their children have the odd tipple could be putting them at risk of brain damage and depression, stunting their growth and can cause memory problems.

Some parents are known to give children as young as five alcohol at home. Many families believe alcohol at mealtimes can encourage a responsible attitude in older offspring.

But Sir Liam yesterday said this practice was misguided and "middle class". He said the advice, the first in Europe and possibly the world, was being issued to help clear up parental confusion on safe levels of childhood drinking.

'A lot of people ask me what is wrong with giving children a glass of pinot noir watered down from an early age,' he said

'There is an extremely strongly held belief among middle class parents that it must work'

'But there is no evidence either way. The danger of any misguided attempt to ply children with alcohol is that they get the taste for drinking.'