One child under the age of ten is treated for alcohol-related injuries or illness every week in Scotland, according to new figures.
NHS data revealed that as many as 225 nine-year-olds or under were admitted to hospital for alcohol abuse over the last three years, with the number rising to 4,884 in the 10-18 age group.
The figures were obtained through freedom of information requests made by the Scottish Liberal Democrats.
Its health spokesman Jim Hume MSP said: “People will be shocked to learn that more than 200 children under 10 years of age were treated for alcohol-related injury or illness. These children should be out kicking a ball about, not hitting the bottle.
“It should set alarm bells ringing across society that so many young people who should not be drinking are being treated by our NHS staff for alcohol-related conditions.
“Problem drinking can rip apart families and places enormous financial strain on our public services, from our hospitals to our criminal justice system”, he added.
Last week, Alcohol Concern released figures showing that the number of alcohol-related admissions to hospital has risen to nearly ten million a year in England.
According to 2012-2013 data, 9.6 million people are now drinking in excess of Government guidelines.
There were 9.9 million alcohol-related hospital admissions, six in ten of which were for accident and emergency.
Jackie Ballard, Chief Executive of Alcohol Concern said: “The NHS is now facing an intolerable strain from alcohol-related illnesses”.
“This is not just from readily-identifiable causes such as A&E visits and admissions for liver disease, but from a significant number of other conditions in which alcohol plays a major, but often underappreciated part.”
Dr Carsten Grimm, Clinical Lead for the Alcohol Service in Kirklees, said: “It is vital that people understand the full consequences drinking at unsafe levels can have on their health.”
“Drinking alcohol above recommended levels can have a damaging impact upon almost every part of our body, and it is crucial that national and local organisations work together to address this harm”, he added.