Tag Archives: child

Parental alcohol abuse linked to child deaths and injuries

One in three child deaths or serious injuries from neglect or abuse linked to alcohol misuse

Person drinking bottle of beer


The study, commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers, found that more than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Photograph: David Jones/PA

More than one in three deaths or serious injuries suffered by a child through neglect or abuse is linked to parental drinking, a study has found.

A report commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers found that alcohol abuse by parents was behind horrific problems for children and warned that budgets of alcohol and drug treatment programmes were being cut.

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” said Liam Byrne, the Labour MP and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics.

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

More than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Referrals to alcohol treatment services were falling in more than 50% of local authorities, according to information released under freedom of information laws.

The study also found that 92% of the 53 councils that responded were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services. Cuts differed in severity, from £9.6m – or 58.1% – in Lancashire, to £87,000 – or 1.1% – in Wolverhampton. The average cut to local authority funding was around £198,000.

The group also found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The report called for better funding to help youngsters affected by parents who drink. Byrne, who lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said the group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse”.

He added that the report showed “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place”.

The study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the all-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, found that 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and reluctant to seek help, due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents, the study found.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are acutely aware of the impact some parents drinking can have on their children – that’s why work is well underway on a new children of alcoholics strategy, which will look at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.

“This comes in addition to our new higher duties to target cheap, high strength cider and the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines, which help adults make informed decisions about their drinking.”

The shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children. The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritise tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected.

“Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasises there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place.

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

Parental alcohol abuse linked to child deaths and injuries

One in three child deaths or serious injuries from neglect or abuse linked to alcohol misuse

Person drinking bottle of beer


The study, commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers, found that more than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Photograph: David Jones/PA

More than one in three deaths or serious injuries suffered by a child through neglect or abuse is linked to parental drinking, a study has found.

A report commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers found that alcohol abuse by parents was behind horrific problems for children and warned that budgets of alcohol and drug treatment programmes were being cut.

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” said Liam Byrne, the Labour MP and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics.

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

More than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Referrals to alcohol treatment services were falling in more than 50% of local authorities, according to information released under freedom of information laws.

The study also found that 92% of the 53 councils that responded were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services. Cuts differed in severity, from £9.6m – or 58.1% – in Lancashire, to £87,000 – or 1.1% – in Wolverhampton. The average cut to local authority funding was around £198,000.

The group also found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The report called for better funding to help youngsters affected by parents who drink. Byrne, who lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said the group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse”.

He added that the report showed “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place”.

The study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the all-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, found that 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and reluctant to seek help, due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents, the study found.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are acutely aware of the impact some parents drinking can have on their children – that’s why work is well underway on a new children of alcoholics strategy, which will look at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.

“This comes in addition to our new higher duties to target cheap, high strength cider and the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines, which help adults make informed decisions about their drinking.”

The shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children. The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritise tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected.

“Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasises there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place.

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

Parental alcohol abuse linked to child deaths and injuries

One in three child deaths or serious injuries from neglect or abuse linked to alcohol misuse

Person drinking bottle of beer


The study, commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers, found that more than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Photograph: David Jones/PA

More than one in three deaths or serious injuries suffered by a child through neglect or abuse is linked to parental drinking, a study has found.

A report commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers found that alcohol abuse by parents was behind horrific problems for children and warned that budgets of alcohol and drug treatment programmes were being cut.

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” said Liam Byrne, the Labour MP and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics.

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

More than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Referrals to alcohol treatment services were falling in more than 50% of local authorities, according to information released under freedom of information laws.

The study also found that 92% of the 53 councils that responded were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services. Cuts differed in severity, from £9.6m – or 58.1% – in Lancashire, to £87,000 – or 1.1% – in Wolverhampton. The average cut to local authority funding was around £198,000.

The group also found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The report called for better funding to help youngsters affected by parents who drink. Byrne, who lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said the group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse”.

He added that the report showed “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place”.

The study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the all-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, found that 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and reluctant to seek help, due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents, the study found.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are acutely aware of the impact some parents drinking can have on their children – that’s why work is well underway on a new children of alcoholics strategy, which will look at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.

“This comes in addition to our new higher duties to target cheap, high strength cider and the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines, which help adults make informed decisions about their drinking.”

The shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children. The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritise tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected.

“Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasises there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place.

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

Parental alcohol abuse linked to child deaths and injuries

One in three child deaths or serious injuries from neglect or abuse linked to alcohol misuse

Person drinking bottle of beer


The study, commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers, found that more than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Photograph: David Jones/PA

More than one in three deaths or serious injuries suffered by a child through neglect or abuse is linked to parental drinking, a study has found.

A report commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers found that alcohol abuse by parents was behind horrific problems for children and warned that budgets of alcohol and drug treatment programmes were being cut.

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” said Liam Byrne, the Labour MP and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics.

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

More than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Referrals to alcohol treatment services were falling in more than 50% of local authorities, according to information released under freedom of information laws.

The study also found that 92% of the 53 councils that responded were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services. Cuts differed in severity, from £9.6m – or 58.1% – in Lancashire, to £87,000 – or 1.1% – in Wolverhampton. The average cut to local authority funding was around £198,000.

The group also found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The report called for better funding to help youngsters affected by parents who drink. Byrne, who lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said the group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse”.

He added that the report showed “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place”.

The study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the all-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, found that 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and reluctant to seek help, due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents, the study found.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are acutely aware of the impact some parents drinking can have on their children – that’s why work is well underway on a new children of alcoholics strategy, which will look at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.

“This comes in addition to our new higher duties to target cheap, high strength cider and the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines, which help adults make informed decisions about their drinking.”

The shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children. The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritise tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected.

“Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasises there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place.

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

Parental alcohol abuse linked to child deaths and injuries

One in three child deaths or serious injuries from neglect or abuse linked to alcohol misuse

Person drinking bottle of beer


The study, commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers, found that more than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Photograph: David Jones/PA

More than one in three deaths or serious injuries suffered by a child through neglect or abuse is linked to parental drinking, a study has found.

A report commissioned by a cross-bench group of MPs and peers found that alcohol abuse by parents lies behind horrific problems for children and warned that budgets of alcohol and drug treatment programmes are being cut.

“Parental alcohol misuse scars kids for life and can lead many into a life of drinking too much themselves,” said Liam Byrne, the Labour MP and chairman of the All-Party Group for Children of Alcoholics.

“Millions of parents drink too much and their misuse of alcohol causes horrific problems for their children.”

Alcohol misuse was implicated in 37% of cases of a child’s death or serious injury after abuse or neglect between 2011 and 2014, the study found.

More than half of councils did not have a strategy to help children of alcoholics. Referrals to alcohol treatment services were falling in more than 50% of local authorities, according to information released under freedom of information laws.

The study also found that 92% of the 53 councils that responded were cutting budgets for alcohol and drug treatment services. Cuts differed in severity, from £9.6m – or 58.1% – in Lancashire, to £87,000 – or 1.1% – in Wolverhampton. The average cut to local authority funding was around £198,000.

The group also found that 15% of children had their bedtime routine disrupted due to their parents’ drinking and 18% were embarrassed at seeing their parent drunk.

The report called for better funding to help youngsters affected by parents who drink. Byrne, who lost his father to alcoholism in 2015, said the group’s campaign had won a “new commitment from government for a national strategy to stop parental alcohol misuse”.

He added that the report showed “just why the government must act fast to put an effective plan in place”.

The study, published by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology following a request by the all-party parliamentary group for children of alcoholics, found that 61% of care applications in England involved misuse of alcohol and/or drugs.

Children living with alcohol-dependent parents reported feeling socially isolated and reluctant to seek help, due to feelings of stigma, shame and guilt about not wanting to betray parents, the study found.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokeswoman said: “We are acutely aware of the impact some parents drinking can have on their children – that’s why work is well underway on a new children of alcoholics strategy, which will look at what further support we can provide to families to tackle alcohol harms.

“This comes in addition to our new higher duties to target cheap, high strength cider and the UK chief medical officers’ guidelines, which help adults make informed decisions about their drinking.”

The shadow health secretary, Labour’s Jonathan Ashworth, said: “This report lays bare the real and damaging impact parental drinking can have on children. The findings of this report make me more determined than ever to prioritise tackling addiction while supporting the children and families affected.

“Having recently spoken about my own father’s drinking problems, I welcomed the government’s commitment to support children of alcoholics. However, this report emphasises there is still a long way to go. Almost all local authorities have cut treatment services and many still do not have strategies for children of alcoholics in place.

“It’s time we as a society took these issues more seriously so that children no longer need suffer in silence.”

Is your child at risk of brain injury from playing football or rugby?

Despite increasing concern about the long-term risk of dementia and other problems from heading a ball or tackling, children are still playing contact sports. Should you play it safe and stop them?

Remove tackling ‘and you don’t have rugby any more’.


Remove tackling ‘and you don’t have rugby any more’. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

I love to watch my daughter play football, but when she heads the ball, I feel a surge of pride (she isn’t one of those who duck out the way) and a surge of fear. How many brain cells did she knock out? And what goes on inside her head when the ball hits it?

Since the case of Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion footballer who died of a degenerative brain disease in 2002, the potential risks of heading have come under intensive scrutiny. The coroner cited “industrial disease” as the cause of Astle’s death. At about the same time, Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist played by Will Smith in the film Concussion, was establishing a link between the sudden death of NFL player Mike Webster and a form of brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that had previously been associated only with boxers.

But despite these findings, little has changed for children on the field of play. Sport carries risks that science is still struggling to evaluate. So how should you strike the balance between encouraging children’s competitiveness and keeping them safe?

Globally, the response of sporting bodies has varied hugely. In the US, children under 11 are not allowed to head the ball, but the Football Association in England feels there is insufficient evidence to follow suit. In England, there is no tackling in rugby for under-nines, in New Zealand it’s under-eights, in Canada under-11s. Omalu advocates no contact sports for anyone under 18.

Allyson Pollock, director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle university, has called repeatedly for schools to ban tackling in rugby. Last year, she sent a list of 36 questions to the UK’s chief medical officers on this subject, and, in the absence of any answers, has sent out a follow-up. “You have to think of it as being like tobacco,” she says. “The sporting bodies fund the research.” The weight of tradition (and vast amounts of sponsorship money) is behind them. As Omalu found when he first presented his evidence to the NFL, bringing about change can be difficult.

It was watching her own son play that led Pollock to investigate injuries in youth rugby. By age 16, he had broken his nose, fractured his leg, broken his cheekbone and had experienced concussion. “When I looked at the data, 95% of [youth] players were injured by the time they left [the sport]. I thought: this isn’t worth it.” Children, she believes, should not practise collision sports. “If they are going to play rugby, I’d ask them to play non-collision rugby.”

These sorts of questions “consume a significant proportion of my working life”, says Martin Raftery, chief medical officer at World Rugby. “In life you can minimise risk, but never eliminate it.” This does not sound like a proactive response to the problem of how to reduce injuries in his sport. Why not ban tackles in school rugby? “Why don’t we stop them riding bikes?” he asks.

Jeff Astle in 1970.


Jeff Astle in 1970. Photograph: Hulton Getty

According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, tackles are responsible for 64% of all injuries in youth rugby and 87% of concussions. Raftery himself co-authored an article in the same journal accepting that “the most effective, although extreme, method for preventing concussion would be to eliminate exposure by removing the tackle from the game”. So why doesn’t World Rugby do so, at least in schools? “Well, you don’t have rugby any more.”

World Rugby is researching the possibility of changing the rules on tackling – to reduce the height at which it is permitted, for instance – but a change was first mooted in 2015 and the research is only 12 months in. Progress is slow.

Ninety years after “punch-drunk syndrome” in boxers, now recognised as CTE, was first identified, research into how brain injury relates to sport is still relatively young. There have been many cases of professional athletes who have developed brain ill-health – three of the players who won the World Cup in 1966 have dementia, for instance – but evidence of a correlation is lacking.

“There is no science that can prove a correlation between the sports impact and the pathologies that are being observed,” says Hannah Wilson of the Drake Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to understanding concussion injuries in sport. “That’s really where the gap in our understanding is.” The foundation is funding – despite Pollock’s comments about the influence of sporting bodies – independent research into the possible increased risks of neurodegenerative diseases in retired contact-sport athletes.

Parents can still withdraw their children if they are concerned about tackling.


Parents can still withdraw their children if they are concerned about tackling. Photograph: SolStock/Getty Images

Willie Stewart, the Glasgow-based neurosurgeon who examined Astle’s brain and found evidence of CTE, is this month signing the contract on a research project funded by the FA to explore the connection between heading the ball and dementia.

“What we don’t know is whether people who play football get dementia more than you would expect,” Stewart says. Crucially, his researchers will examine 15,000 former professional footballers against 45,000 otherwise comparable people who were not in the sport. The volume of sampling “should be able to answer the question we’ve got: was the risk of degenerative brain disease in former footballers against population expectations?”

It will take two to three years to gather the data. In the meantime, Stewart is in favour of tackling in rugby and finds no reason to tell children not to head the ball. “But would I go out with kids and have them head the ball 20 times over? No.”

Parents, meanwhile, can check whether heading is overemphasised in training. They can withdraw their child from school rugby if they and their child object to the tackles. But the most important question to ask of any coach or teacher, Stewart says, is: “Do they have a concussion policy?” In England, the sport’s governing body, the RFU, has a concussion education programme including an online audio course for parents, and Stewart himself co-produced a pocket concussion guide for all sports in Scotland.

So, while I will continue to applaud those rare headers (until the research tells me otherwise) and committed tackles, I will do so as a concussion-literate spectator.

Is your child at risk of brain injury from playing football or rugby?

Despite increasing concern about the long-term risk of dementia and other problems from heading a ball or tackling, children are still playing contact sports. Should you play it safe and stop them?

Remove tackling ‘and you don’t have rugby any more’.


Remove tackling ‘and you don’t have rugby any more’. Photograph: Alamy Stock Photo

I love to watch my daughter play football, but when she heads the ball, I feel a surge of pride (she isn’t one of those who duck out the way) and a surge of fear. How many brain cells did she knock out? And what goes on inside her head when the ball hits it?

Since the case of Jeff Astle, the former West Bromwich Albion footballer who died of a degenerative brain disease in 2002, the potential risks of heading have come under intensive scrutiny. The coroner cited “industrial disease” as the cause of Astle’s death. At about the same time, Bennet Omalu, the forensic pathologist played by Will Smith in the film Concussion, was establishing a link between the sudden death of NFL player Mike Webster and a form of brain disease, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), that had previously been associated only with boxers.

But despite these findings, little has changed for children on the field of play. Sport carries risks that science is still struggling to evaluate. So how should you strike the balance between encouraging children’s competitiveness and keeping them safe?

Globally, the response of sporting bodies has varied hugely. In the US, children under 11 are not allowed to head the ball, but the Football Association in England feels there is insufficient evidence to follow suit. In England, there is no tackling in rugby for under-nines, in New Zealand it’s under-eights, in Canada under-11s. Omalu advocates no contact sports for anyone under 18.

Allyson Pollock, director of the Institute of Health and Society at Newcastle university, has called repeatedly for schools to ban tackling in rugby. Last year, she sent a list of 36 questions to the UK’s chief medical officers on this subject, and, in the absence of any answers, has sent out a follow-up. “You have to think of it as being like tobacco,” she says. “The sporting bodies fund the research.” The weight of tradition (and vast amounts of sponsorship money) is behind them. As Omalu found when he first presented his evidence to the NFL, bringing about change can be difficult.

It was watching her own son play that led Pollock to investigate injuries in youth rugby. By age 16, he had broken his nose, fractured his leg, broken his cheekbone and had experienced concussion. “When I looked at the data, 95% of [youth] players were injured by the time they left [the sport]. I thought: this isn’t worth it.” Children, she believes, should not practise collision sports. “If they are going to play rugby, I’d ask them to play non-collision rugby.”

These sorts of questions “consume a significant proportion of my working life”, says Martin Raftery, chief medical officer at World Rugby. “In life you can minimise risk, but never eliminate it.” This does not sound like a proactive response to the problem of how to reduce injuries in his sport. Why not ban tackles in school rugby? “Why don’t we stop them riding bikes?” he asks.

Jeff Astle in 1970.


Jeff Astle in 1970. Photograph: Hulton Getty

According to research published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, tackles are responsible for 64% of all injuries in youth rugby and 87% of concussions. Raftery himself co-authored an article in the same journal accepting that “the most effective, although extreme, method for preventing concussion would be to eliminate exposure by removing the tackle from the game”. So why doesn’t World Rugby do so, at least in schools? “Well, you don’t have rugby any more.”

World Rugby is researching the possibility of changing the rules on tackling – to reduce the height at which it is permitted, for instance – but a change was first mooted in 2015 and the research is only 12 months in. Progress is slow.

Ninety years after “punch-drunk syndrome” in boxers, now recognised as CTE, was first identified, research into how brain injury relates to sport is still relatively young. There have been many cases of professional athletes who have developed brain ill-health – three of the players who won the World Cup in 1966 have dementia, for instance – but evidence of a correlation is lacking.

“There is no science that can prove a correlation between the sports impact and the pathologies that are being observed,” says Hannah Wilson of the Drake Foundation, a not-for-profit organisation dedicated to understanding concussion injuries in sport. “That’s really where the gap in our understanding is.” The foundation is funding – despite Pollock’s comments about the influence of sporting bodies – independent research into the possible increased risks of neurodegenerative diseases in retired contact-sport athletes.

Parents can still withdraw their children if they are concerned about tackling.


Parents can still withdraw their children if they are concerned about tackling. Photograph: SolStock/Getty Images

Willie Stewart, the Glasgow-based neurosurgeon who examined Astle’s brain and found evidence of CTE, is this month signing the contract on a research project funded by the FA to explore the connection between heading the ball and dementia.

“What we don’t know is whether people who play football get dementia more than you would expect,” Stewart says. Crucially, his researchers will examine 15,000 former professional footballers against 45,000 otherwise comparable people who were not in the sport. The volume of sampling “should be able to answer the question we’ve got: was the risk of degenerative brain disease in former footballers against population expectations?”

It will take two to three years to gather the data. In the meantime, Stewart is in favour of tackling in rugby and finds no reason to tell children not to head the ball. “But would I go out with kids and have them head the ball 20 times over? No.”

Parents, meanwhile, can check whether heading is overemphasised in training. They can withdraw their child from school rugby if they and their child object to the tackles. But the most important question to ask of any coach or teacher, Stewart says, is: “Do they have a concussion policy?” In England, the sport’s governing body, the RFU, has a concussion education programme including an online audio course for parents, and Stewart himself co-produced a pocket concussion guide for all sports in Scotland.

So, while I will continue to applaud those rare headers (until the research tells me otherwise) and committed tackles, I will do so as a concussion-literate spectator.

Dentists warn of child tooth decay crisis as extractions hit new high

NHS surgeons are performing record numbers of operations to pull out rotten teeth in children.

Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers in England a total of 42,911 times – 170 a day – in 2016-17, according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association.

That is almost a fifth (17%) more than the 36,833 of those procedures that surgical teams carried out in 2012-13. Each one involves a child having a general anaesthetic and at least two teeth removed.

“These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease,” said Mick Armstrong, the chair of the British Dental Association, which represents most of the UK’s dentists.

He condemned “ministerial indifference [to] … the child tooth decay crisis”. Ministers were being “short-sighted” by not taking children’s oral health more seriously. Under-18s in England were receiving “second-class” services to prevent rotten teeth, in contrast to Scotland and Wales, both of which have a dedicated national programme, Armstrong added.

Tooth decay chart

The cost to the NHS of removing severely decayed teeth in under-18s has also escalated over those four years, from £27.3m to £36.2m.

Health campaigners said the “alarming” trend showed children were eating too many sweet foods and should prompt tough action to cut their sugar intake.

“These figures show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s health,” said Izzi Seccombe, a councillor and the chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.

Children’s poor dental health can limit their ability to eat, play, socialise and speak normally, she added.

The government’s main policy to prevent tooth decay in children most at risk, called Starting Well, was not given new funding and operates only in parts of just 13 local council areas in England, the BDA said.

“This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions,” Armstrong said.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation charity, said the rise in childhood teeth extractions was “completely unacceptable” and was causing pain and distress for the under-18s undergoing the procedure.

Dr Sandra White, Public Health England’s director of dental public health, said: “Parents can reduce tooth decay through cutting back on their children’s sugary food and drink, encouraging them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and trips to the dentist as often as advised.”

Prof Russell Viner, officer for health promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said ministers should ban television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar before the 9pm watershed and stop fast food shops opening near schools and colleges.

Dentists warn of child tooth decay crisis as extractions hit new high

NHS surgeons are performing record numbers of operations to pull out rotten teeth in children.

Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers in England a total of 42,911 times – 170 a day – in 2016-17, according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association.

That is almost a fifth (17%) more than the 36,833 of those procedures that surgical teams carried out in 2012-13. Each one involves a child having a general anaesthetic and at least two teeth removed.

“These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease,” said Mick Armstrong, the chair of the British Dental Association, which represents most of the UK’s dentists.

He condemned “ministerial indifference [to] … the child tooth decay crisis”. Ministers were being “short-sighted” by not taking children’s oral health more seriously. Under-18s in England were receiving “second-class” services to prevent rotten teeth, in contrast to Scotland and Wales, both of which have a dedicated national programme, Armstrong added.

Tooth decay chart

The cost to the NHS of removing severely decayed teeth in under-18s has also escalated over those four years, from £27.3m to £36.2m.

Health campaigners said the “alarming” trend showed children were eating too many sweet foods and should prompt tough action to cut their sugar intake.

“These figures show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s health,” said Izzi Seccombe, a councillor and the chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.

Children’s poor dental health can limit their ability to eat, play, socialise and speak normally, she added.

The government’s main policy to prevent tooth decay in children most at risk, called Starting Well, was not given new funding and operates only in parts of just 13 local council areas in England, the BDA said.

“This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions,” Armstrong said.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation charity, said the rise in childhood teeth extractions was “completely unacceptable” and was causing pain and distress for the under-18s undergoing the procedure.

Dr Sandra White, Public Health England’s director of dental public health, said: “Parents can reduce tooth decay through cutting back on their children’s sugary food and drink, encouraging them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and trips to the dentist as often as advised.”

Prof Russell Viner, officer for health promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said ministers should ban television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar before the 9pm watershed and stop fast food shops opening near schools and colleges.

Dentists warn of child tooth decay crisis as extractions hit new high

NHS surgeons are performing record numbers of operations to pull out rotten teeth in children.

Hospitals extracted multiple teeth from children and teenagers in England a total of 42,911 times – 170 a day – in 2016-17, according to statistics obtained by the Local Government Association.

That is almost a fifth (17%) more than the 36,833 of those procedures that surgical teams carried out in 2012-13. Each one involves a child having a general anaesthetic and at least two teeth removed.

“These statistics are a badge of dishonour for health ministers, who have failed to confront a wholly preventable disease,” said Mick Armstrong, the chair of the British Dental Association, which represents most of the UK’s dentists.

He condemned “ministerial indifference [to] … the child tooth decay crisis”. Ministers were being “short-sighted” by not taking children’s oral health more seriously. Under-18s in England were receiving “second-class” services to prevent rotten teeth, in contrast to Scotland and Wales, both of which have a dedicated national programme, Armstrong added.

Tooth decay chart

The cost to the NHS of removing severely decayed teeth in under-18s has also escalated over those four years, from £27.3m to £36.2m.

Health campaigners said the “alarming” trend showed children were eating too many sweet foods and should prompt tough action to cut their sugar intake.

“These figures show that we have an oral health crisis and highlight the damage that excessive sugar intake is doing to young people’s health,” said Izzi Seccombe, a councillor and the chair of the LGA’s community wellbeing board.

Children’s poor dental health can limit their ability to eat, play, socialise and speak normally, she added.

The government’s main policy to prevent tooth decay in children most at risk, called Starting Well, was not given new funding and operates only in parts of just 13 local council areas in England, the BDA said.

“This short-sightedness means just a few thousand children stand to benefit from policies that need to be reaching millions,” Armstrong said.

Dr Nigel Carter, chief executive of the Oral Health Foundation charity, said the rise in childhood teeth extractions was “completely unacceptable” and was causing pain and distress for the under-18s undergoing the procedure.

Dr Sandra White, Public Health England’s director of dental public health, said: “Parents can reduce tooth decay through cutting back on their children’s sugary food and drink, encouraging them to brush their teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day, and trips to the dentist as often as advised.”

Prof Russell Viner, officer for health promotion at the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said ministers should ban television advertisements for foods high in fat, salt or sugar before the 9pm watershed and stop fast food shops opening near schools and colleges.