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J Stud Alcohol. 2004 May;65(3):297-300.

Alcohol-related emergency department visits among people ages 13 to 25 years.

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Division of Unintentional Injury Prevention, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Highway, N.E., Mailstop K63, Atlanta, Georgia 30341, USA.



Data from a large, nationally representative sample of hospital emergency departments (EDs) were used to assess the prevalence and characteristics of alcohol-related ED visits among people ages 13 to 25 years in the United States.


Emergency department visits recorded in the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program were coded for alcohol involvement based on alcohol product codes and abstractions of chart narratives. National estimates and confidence intervals were calculated using SUDAAN statistical software.


Based on these chart data, in the United States in 2001 there were an estimated 244,331 alcohol-related ED visits among people ages 13 to 25 (3.2% of total visits). Of these, an estimated 119,503 (49%) involved people below the legal drinking age of 21. The number of alcohol-related visits increased throughout adolescence and young adulthood to the age of 21, after which they decreased to levels similar to those seen for 18 to 20 year olds. Alcohol-related visits were most frequent on weekends and among males and were more strongly associated with visits related to assault or self-harm than to visits for unintentional injuries or injuries of unknown intent. In this population, 38% of alcohol-related visits involved no external cause of injury (e.g., drinking to excess only).


These data highlight the need for stronger efforts to delay initiation of alcohol use among adolescents as long as possible and to limit access to alcohol for underage drinkers.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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