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Underage Drinking Hospitalizations Cost $755 Million in the U.S. Each Year

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Hospitalization for underage drinking costs an estimated $755 million in the United States each year, according to a new study by the Mayo Clinic.

Approximately 40,000 youth ages 15 to 20 were hospitalized in 2008, the most recent year for which data is available, according to Science Daily.

The study found that among U.S. teens, about 18 of every 10,000 teenage males and 12 of every 10,000 teenage females were hospitalized after drinking alcohol in the year studied. The average age of those hospitalized was 18, and 61 percent were male. Hospitalizations due to alcohol were highest in the Northeast and Midwest.

Nearly one-fourth of the hospitalizations included an injury stemming from causes including traffic accidents, assaults or fights. An estimated $505 million of the cost of hospitalization involved treatment of injuries.

“When teenagers drink, they tend to drink excessively, leading to many destructive consequences including motor vehicle accidents, injuries, homicides and suicides,” researcher Terry Schneekloth, MD, said in a news release. “Alcohol use necessitating acute-care hospitalization represents one of the most serious consequences of underage drinking. Harmful alcohol use in adolescence is a harbinger of alcohol abuse in adulthood.”

The findings are published in the Journal of Adolescent Health.

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