European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 153, Issue 12, pp 868–872 | Cite as

Acute alcohol intoxication among children and adolescents

  • Anne Lamminpää


Severe toxicity from ethanol, manifested as coma, occurs at lower blood alcohol concentrations in young teenagers than in adults. Coma, vomiting and hypothermia are the commonest symptoms in young teenagers intoxicated by alcohol. The biochemical disturbances in children 11–16 years of age with alcohol intoxication resemble those of adults. Mild acidosis of a respiratory and metabolic origin and mild hypokalaemia are common findings in young teenagers. Young teenagers eliminate ethanol at the same rate as adults, whereas preschool age children are reported to eliminate ethanol twice as fast. The effect of ethanol on the state of consciousness is directly proportional to the blood alcohol concentration. Among small children the risk of hypoglycaemia is increased. Data on family history, social status, drinking habits, and children's motives for getting drunk are also of clinical importance. Fluid replacement with glucose-containing fluids and follow up are generally the only treatments needed for complete recovery. When children and adolescents are healthy, well-nourished and have not fasted, no severe complications are expected.

Key words

Adolescent Alcohol intoxication Child 



blood alcohol concentration




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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anne Lamminpää
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Clinical PharmacologyUniversity of HelsinkiHelsinkiFinland

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