Trauma is the leading killer of children and adolescents between 1 and 21 years of age. Alcohol-impaired driving represents the single greatest cause of mortality and morbidity of children over the age of 6. We retrospectively reviewed 878 consecutive adolescent (age range, 16 to 20 years) trauma admissions for blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Four hundred sixty-seven patients had BAC drawn, 258 were BAC-negative (group I), 209 (48%) were BAC-positive (group II). The adolescent drinkers were then compared with a group of 748 adult drinkers (group III). Groups I and II differ in sex, age, time of day of the accident, Injury Severity Score, Glasgow Coma Score, and Revised Trauma Score, whereas group II and III differ by type of accident, type of injury, socioeconomic factors (bad debt), time of day of the injury, and BAC. There were no significant differences in TRISS predicted survival, actual survival, nor mean length of stay. We conclude that (1) alcohol is a significant contributor to injury during adolescence, and (2) adolescent drinkers differ from adult drinkers in their habits, demographics, and socioeconomic status. These socioeconomic differences have implications for the access to and cost-effectiveness of interventions.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health