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TINY BABY IS TREATED FOR BOOZE; Midland teen alcoholics on the rise EXCLUSIVE.

Byline: BEN GOLDBY

A BABY had to be treated at a Midland hospital for BOOZE, the Sunday Mercury can reveal.

The child, who was less than one year old, was rushed to an A&E unit in Shropshire with suspected alcohol poisoning.

It comes just a fortnight after the Sunday Mercury revealed how kids as young as three are addicted to booze in the Midlands.

The baby's plight is revealed in new figures obtained by the Mercury under the Freedom of Information Act. Statistics from Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust show that more than 300 people under the age of 16 have been treated by doctors over the past three years for alchohollinked illness.

The Trust's tipplers toll shockingly includes 67 schoolchildren under the age of 13.

It is an alarming situation echoed at The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust, where figures reveal they have treated a child under the age of five for alcoholism, along with another six under the age of 13.

Dangers And the Alcohol Concern watchdog group warns that under-age drinking is getting worse, with the number of child boozers being admitted to A&E departments increasing by a third last year.

One man who knows the dangers is former teen alcoholic Anthony Iliffe, who took to the bottle at the age of 11 to escape a violent alcoholic father, and then spent a decade drifting in and out of jail.

He eventually managed to kick the booze and settled down to become a happily married father-of-two.

"It all comes back to haunt me even to this day," said Anthony, who is now 40, from Derby.

"I got in trouble and got a criminal record through alcoholism - and you've got that for the rest of your life.

"I see kids drinking in the street now and say to my wife: 'They're going down the same road as me'.

"They've got prison written all over them.

"My dad was an alcoholic. He used to give me booze when I was 10 or 11 years old. We used to take whatever money we had and get sherry from the local shop.

"Kids grow up seeing drinking as normal, and the only way to have a good time. Youngsters need people who have been through it to tell them how dangerous drink is.

"I will tell people it's not big and clever. I've been there and seen the dark side of it.

"The problem isn't so much the cheap price of booze - when you're young you don't think about the value of money, If you want something you'll find a way to get it.

"The problem is that drinking is seen as acceptable, where smoking and drugs aren't.

"All the soaps on TV revolve around a pub, all the celebs and footballers' wives are pictured drinking and partying, and kids think it's glamorous. "Drink should be kept under the counter at shops, and removed from TV. It's seen as no big problem, which couldn't be further from the truth."

Statistics released to the Sunday Mercury under the Freedom of Information Act show that 305 children under the age of 16 were treated at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospitals for chronic alcoholism, alcohol poisoning or mental and behavioural disorders linked to booze between January 2008 and December 2010.

Over the same period, 48 under 16s were admitted by The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals Trust for alcoholism treatment. Those children included six youngsters under the age of 13 and one child of less than five.

Earlier this month the Sunday Mercury revealed that a three year-old child had been treated for booze addiction at a hospital in Birmingham. West Midlands Ambulance Service responded to 1,296 alcohol-related call-outs involving under-18s in 2010 at a cost of almost pounds 250,000.

Chris Sorek, Chief Executive of alcohol awareness charity Drinkaware, said: "Any child requiring hospital treatment for alcohol-related illness is a cause for great concern."

ben.goldby@sundaymercury.net
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England)
Date:Mar 27, 2011
Words:655
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