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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 August 2006, 05:52 GMT 06:52 UK
Warning over toll of drunk teens
Teenage drinking
Hundreds of children have ended up in hospital through drink
The scale of underage drinking has seen police called to children's wards to handcuff drunken teenagers on the rampage, BBC Scotland has learned.

Doctors have called for action over the risk that binge drinking teenagers pose to themselves and others.

They also warned about rising numbers of drunk girls leaving themselves vulnerable to sexual attack.

Last year, 750 children aged 11 to 16 were admitted to hospital in Scotland with alcohol-related problems.

Paediatricians have said they are seeing increasing numbers of intoxicated children on their wards.

People feel very threatened
Dr Adrian Margerison
Borders General Hospital

According to one consultant in the Borders, the police have had to be called to his ward twice to deal with teenagers who became uncontrollable after regaining consciousness.

Dr Adrian Margerison, who works at Borders General Hospital, told BBC Scotland: "When a child's unconscious we have to admit them because you have to protect them.

"There are risks in winter, they may be cold having been out in cold weather and as they wake up, that's when we start to have problems.

"People feel very threatened, we've had two children where we've had to get police help and handcuff them to the beds."

Growing problem

In the incidents, one youth tipped up a cot containing a baby and another grabbed a baby in its bassinette.

Dr Margerison said: "This was picked up by the child, who was drunk, much to the terror of the mum who screamed and called for help."

Dr John McClure, a consultant paediatrician with NHS Ayrshire & Arran, said he saw several children brought in drunk every week.

We're getting young people when they are already at the stage of potentially having liver damage
Michelle Ballantyne
NHS Borders Reiver Project

He said: "This must be only the tip of the tip of the iceberg, because you have to be pretty ill to get past the casualty department and have to be in the ward."

The Reiver Project intervention project in Galashiels deals with children who are referred to them from casualty.

The scheme's Michelle Ballantyne said that in the last year there had been a 25% increase in referrals, which was continuing to rise.

She said: "The degree of problem that we're getting with young people is rising, so we were set up as an early intervention programme, but really we're getting young people when they are already at the stage of potentially having liver damage."

Watch one doctor discuss the scale of binge drinking

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