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Difficult childhoods lead to teenage drinking

An African study has found a link between a difficult childhood and alcohol consumption as a teenager. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health studied the association between adverse childhood experiences and drunkenness among 9,189 adolescents aged 12-19 years living in Burkina Faso, Ghana, Malawi, and Uganda.

Dr. Caroline Kabiru and a team of researcher from the African Population and Health Research Center , Nairobi, Kenya conducted the study. They noted, "Overall, 9% of adolescents reported that they had been drunk in the 12 months preceding the survey. In general, respondents who had lived in a food-insecure household, lived with a problem drinker, been physically abused, or been coerced into having sex were more likely to report drunkenness".

There has previously been little research into the determinants of alcohol use among adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa. The researchers' work is supported by similar studies in other parts of the world, which also draw a link between adverse childhood experiences and future drinking. Speaking about the findings, Dr. Kabiru said, "Early treatment for traumatic childhood experiences may be an essential component of interventions designed to prevent alcohol abuse among adolescents".

Notes to Editors

1. Self-reported drunkenness among adolescents in four sub-Saharan African countries: associations with adverse childhood experiences
Caroline W Kabiru, Donatien Beguy, Joanna Crichton and Alex C Ezeh
Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2010, 4:17 doi:10.1186/1753-2000-4-17

Article available at the journal website:

Please name the journal in any story you write. If you are writing for the web, please link to the article. All articles are available free of charge, according to BioMed Central's open access policy.

Article citation and URL available on request at on the day of publication.

2. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health (CAPMH) is an open access, online journal that provides an international platform for rapid and comprehensive scientific communication on child and adolescent mental health across different cultural backgrounds.

3. BioMed Central ( is an STM (Science, Technology and Medicine) publisher which has pioneered the open access publishing model. All peer-reviewed research articles published by BioMed Central are made immediately and freely accessible online, and are licensed to allow redistribution and reuse. BioMed Central is part of Springer Science+Business Media, a leading global publisher in the STM sector.

Graeme Baldwin | EurekAlert!
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