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Study estimates hospitalizations for underage drinking cost $755 million per year

Earlier this year, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported findings showing binge drinking in the United States is a bigger problem than previously thought. Statistics show an estimated 10.8 million young people between the ages of 12-20 are current drinkers and nearly 7.2 million binge drink.

Now findings (subscription required) published today in the Journal of Adolescent Health estimate that the total cost for hospitalizations related to underage drinking is about $755 million per year.

In the study, Mayo Clinic researchers analyzed most 2008 data from Nationwide Inpatient Sample, the largest all-payer inpatient care database in the United States, data from the U.S. Census Bureau for 2008 to determine the incidence rate of underage drinking hospitalizations, identify geographic and demographic differences in the incidence of alcohol-related hospital admissions and calculate costs of these hospitalizations. According to a Mayo Clinic release:

For adolescent males and females, hospitalization incidence was highest in the Northeast and Midwest, lowest in the South, and intermediate in the West. On multivariable analysis, older age and male gender were associated with alcohol-use disorder hospitalizations. In general, black Americans had lower hospitalization rates than whites, and Hispanics and Asian/Pacific Islanders had the lowest rates. The rates tended to be highest for Native and other/mixed-race Americans; however, the number of hospitalizations was relatively small, making estimates imprecise. The findings may help target substance abuse prevention efforts toward geographic and demographic groups at greatest risk.

Much of the hospitalization cost ($505 million) involved treatment of injuries. A total of 107 of those hospitalized died (.27 percent): Their age was 18.6 years, and 82 percent were male. Seventy-three percent of the deaths occurred during a hospitalization for injuries.

Previously: Study offers insights on how alcohol affects the brain, CDC binge-drinking study demonstrates cell phones' value in research, Patterns of alcohol consumption may determine alcohol's influence on heart health, A sobering study suggests that binge drinking may lead to permanent brain damage, Fighting binge drinking on campus, College without booze: harder than it sounds and Does drinking alcohol in moderation improve health?
Photo by Tracie Masek

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