Home news Alcohol harms - even if you do not drink - health

Alcohol harms – even if you do not drink – health

  • An international addiction research team has dedicated one study to particularly dire consequences of drinking alcohol for third parties.
  • The scientists examined health problems in babies, which are caused by alcohol consumption during pregnancy.
  • They also calculated how many uninvolved people were killed by drunk drivers' traffic accidents or by outbreaks of alcohol exploitation.

The terrible news follows on the weekend: about the drunk teenager, who on the way home from the disco with his car has strayed from the road. About the young woman who died of hypothermia after excessive drinking in the city park. What harm the alcohol consumption but not with the drunkard, but with other people can cause, has now calculated an international team around the psychologist Ludwig Kraus of the Institute for Therapy Research in Munich and in the journal BMC Medicine released. "This is still too little known," says Institute Director Kraus. Together with his colleagues, he has devoted himself in a study particularly bad consequences of alcohol consumption.

In 2014 alone, nearly 16,000 children were born in Germany with health problems as a result of alcohol consumption during pregnancy. When pregnant women drink alcohol, children in the womb may develop fetal alcohol spectrum disorder (FASD), sometimes the associated severe form of fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). Then the facial features of the baby can be changed, for example, they have too narrow upper lip, too small a gap between the eyelids, a flattened groove between the nose and mouth. Striking is often the small head circumference. Particularly serious, however, is that some of the children are cognitively restricted.

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How many babies are born with these conditions every year in Germany is unknown. "The diagnosis is difficult to make," explains Kraus. Therefore, he first took international studies to hand. They had calculated how often children of drinking women suffer on average from these syndromes. With the help of data from the Robert Koch Institute on alcohol consumption of pregnant women in Germany, the addiction researchers were then able to estimate how many babies are born with these serious damage: in 2014 alone in Germany were 2930 babies with FAS and 12 650 newborns with FASD , In total, 714 927 children were born in the Federal Republic in 2014.

In addition, the scientists looked at traffic accidents in which the passengers of drunken people or pedestrians were killed. At first they called up the data of the Federal Statistical Office on the number of road deaths for the year 2014 and were able to use the diagnostic key to select those who were killed as a result of a traffic accident caused by others.

Since colleagues from studies in comparable European countries had already randomly calculated the share of deaths caused by alcohol consumption, they were able to transfer this proportion to their data. From the selected deaths, they could then estimate the proportion of co-drivers and pedestrians who lost their lives by an alcoholized driver. 2014 it was the calculations after 1214 people.

Similarly, they acted in the violence. Here they came to 55 victims of an alcoholic offender, also for the year 2014.

How big the problem in Germany continues, show the latest surveys of the World Health Organization. While alcohol consumption has declined in many countries in recent years, it increased in Germany from 12.9 liters of pure alcohol per capita in 2010 to 13.4 liters in 2016. Worldwide, about 237 million men and 46 million women suffer from alcohol problems Most of them live in Europe and on the American continents.

Alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug

Already in 2010, British psychiatrist David Nutt of Imperial College in London calculated the consequences of drinking alcohol in the UK. He summarized the implications for the drinker himself and his environment and found out that alcohol is by far the most dangerous drug, against notorious substances like heroin, crack and cocaine. "Now we have a high-quality new study that again demonstrates the massive damage of alcohol consumption," says Nutt. Therefore, a social debate should now arise on how to minimize these risks, the British psychiatrist demands.

Kraus also wants stricter regulations for alcohol consumption. "Our estimates are intended to suggest to policymakers how many innocent people are affected by the problem," says Kraus. Similar to how the non-smoking laws were introduced years ago to protect uninvolved people from the effects of cigarette smoke, alcohol should also be used. For example, traffic checks could be much more common, Kraus explains, and the sale of alcohol at service stations should be banned. But he also sees other measures, such as specifically informing and advising pregnant women, as an important goal.

His British colleague David Nutt goes even further. He is already researching an alternative to alcohol. It should have a similar relaxing and relaxing effect as wine, beer or schnapps, the psychiatrist reports, but does not bring any risks or damage to health, neither for the drinker nor for his surroundings.

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