Friday, May 21, 2010

A policy statement released by the Committee on Substance Abuse for the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that doctors screen all of their young patients, beginning in middle school, about their use of alcohol.

"A remarkable amount of brain development is still occurring for young people through their 20s," said report lead author Patricia Kokotailo of the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. "This policy statement provides better evidence about how alcohol affects the brains of young people and why it is important to screen children."

The revised policy states that "pediatricians should be knowledgeable about substance abuse to be able to recognize risk factors for alcohol and other substance abuse among youth, screen for use, provide appropriate brief interventions, and refer to treatment."

Committee chair Janet Williams of the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio said that most doctors don't routinely ask about youth alcohol use, and need to know how to provide prevention guidance and where to refer young drinkers to treatment.

Christianne Johnson
Program Manager
Partnership for Prevention


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