Alcohol use by parents who present their child to a paediatric emergency department

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Parental alcohol misuse exposes children to risk, but is poorly identified in paediatric settings. We aimed to (i) measure the alcohol use in parents of a sample of children attending emergency and (ii) assess the quality of documentation of this alcohol use by paediatric residents.


Parents of children presenting to the Emergency Department of a children's hospital were interviewed regarding their alcohol use, and each completed an AUDIT CORE questionnaire. The child's case notes were reviewed for documentation of parental alcohol use.


One hundred and ninety-three parents were interviewed. Although per capita alcohol use for both sexes, and hazardous drinking for females were found to be significantly less than general population figures, rates of hazardous drinking were high for fathers. Yet only 1% of case notes reviewed contained any documentation of parental alcohol use.


This small study suggests that although average alcohol intake amongst parents presenting their children to a paediatric emergency department may be lower than for the general population, there is a significant prevalence of undetected hazardous drinking amongst parents.

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