An increased number of children under the age of 14 are noted to be sent to hospital every year as a result of childhood drinking.
Experts said that the alarming figures showed a 'time bomb' facing the country, and cautioned kids to stop drinking after citing conditions that patients as young as 20 are being diagnosed with irreversible liver damage.
AdvertisementDoctors said that without urgent action the spread of drinking among children would 'destroy a generation'.
Dr Rajiv Jalan, a liver expert from the Institute of Hepatology, said that doctors fear five years of childhood drinking could do as much damage as two decades in adulthood.
He added that alcohol had a massive effect on a growing child, preventing the proper growth of all the organs, including the brain.
'We are now seeing children as young as 10 and 11 drinking. We are already seeing 20-year-olds with cirrhosis of the liver and it is only a matter of time before we see that in teenagers,' the Telegraph quoted him, as saying.
'We need to act now, because if we wait 20 years we will destroy a generation. It usually takes about 10 or 20 years of drinking above safe limits to cause irreparable damage in adults, but we think it could be as little as five in children,' he added.
Martin Shalley, an A&E consultant and president of the British Association for Emergency Medicine, said that he was 'deeply concerned' about the increasing number of pre-teen children arriving at casualty departments in a dangerously drunken state.
'We have seen 11-year-olds who have lost consciousness after raiding their parents' drinks cabinet, young girls unconscious. Children are starting younger and younger and that is very frightening,' he said.
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