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Emergency room visits linked to underage drinking are thought to jump over the July 4th holiday

July 3, 2010 |  9:00 am

Most July 4th-centric health warnings involve fireworks and the nightmarish consequences of setting off pyrotechnics -- death, loss of limbs, severe burns, etc.

L3159anc But the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration wants to warn people that that's not the only potential danger of the weekend. Hospital visits that involve underage drinking jump over the three-day Fourth of July weekend by a lot.

On a typical day in July 2008, 502 emergency room visits in the U.S. were linked with underage drinking, according to the Drug Abuse Warning Network, which monitors drug-related hospital emergency department visits in the U.S.

But on the weekend of the 4th, those numbers jumped to 938 visits per day, an increase of 87%.

"Underage drinking is not a harmless right of passage," said SAMHSA administrator Pamela Hyde in a news release. "It has far-reaching consequences. In addition to emergency department visits, injuries, arrests and embarrassment, 5,000 deaths in people under age 21 are linked to alcohol each year."

The agency, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, provides information on how to help prevent underage drinking.

-- Jeannine Stein

Photo: Underage drinking can end in an emergency room visit. Credit: Oliver Lang / AFP/Getty Images