17% of new parents 'boost drinking'

Salisbury Journal: Parents from wealthier families tend to drink more than the poorest, a survey shows Parents from wealthier families tend to drink more than the poorest, a survey shows

Almost a fifth of new parents increase their alcohol intake after the birth of their first child and are putting their babies at risk, according to a children's charity.

A survey found that 17% of parents drink more alcohol than usual after their first baby is born, while 40% of new parents make no effort to cut down on their drinking.

Children's charity 4Children warns this could be dangerous at a time when parental interactions with their baby are crucial.

More women admitted increasing their alcohol intake after their first birth, with over a fifth (22%) saying they drank more, compared with 10% of men.

Fathers admitted drinking more frequently though, with 40% drinking a few times a week and 13% drinking every day, while 28% of the mothers surveyed said they drank alcohol a few times a week and 4% admitted drinking every day.

A survey of 575 parents with children aged 16 and under also showed that it is parents from wealthier families who tend to drink more than the poorest. Some 11% of families in social grade AB admitted drinking every day with 56% drinking once a week or more, compared with 3% and 42% in poorer social grade DE.

More than half (62%) of parents told the survey they did not believe their use of drugs or alcohol had any effect on their family, with only 9% of parents recognising a negative impact.

These revelations follow on from a Netmums poll on behalf of 4Children which found that 29% of mothers, and 30% of their partners, drink more alcohol every week than the Government's recommended amount.

With up to four million children living with a parent who drinks hazardously or has used drugs in the last year, 4Children believe it is vital that health providers and government invest in the prevention of harm and are calling on the alcohol industry to help.

In the Over the Limit report, the charity writes: "That's why we are calling for a new public information campaign to raise awareness of the effects of alcohol on family life - reflected in labelling and backed up by messages in promotions and advertising. And we believe it is right to turn to the alcohol industry for help in this respect - to find its sense of corporate responsibility, and invest in programmes that make a difference to families whose lives are blighted by substance misuse, to enable families to make the right decisions around drinking and substance use and get the right help when needed."

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