Birthday weeks spike hospital admissions for youths

Toronto: Meant for celebrating life, birthdays can today do more harm than good to young people.

Researchers have found that alcohol-related hospital admissions around birthdays, especially when young people turn legally eligible to drink, get more than doubled.

"This study shows a clear need for efforts to prevent alcohol misuse at one's own birthday celebration," said Russ Callaghan, an associate professor of psychiatry at University of Northern British Columbia in Canada.

For the study, researchers analysed records from all hospital admissions in Ontario over a five-year period (2002-07) involving people aged 12 to 30 years.

They discovered that during the week in which people turned 19 (the permissible age for drinking in Canada), the hospital admissions rose 114 percent for men and 164 percent for women, more than double the rest of the year.

The study revealed similar but less extreme birthday-week spikes at other ages, starting as early as 16 years for boys and 14 years for girls. The largest spikes occurred on the weeks of people's 19th, 20th, 21st, 22nd and 30th birthdays.

The study appeared in the scientific journal Addiction.

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