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June 1991

Parental Alcoholism: A Neglected Pediatric Responsibility

Author Affiliations

Employee Health Programs 6550 Rock Spring Plaza Suite 280 Bethesda, MD 20817

Am J Dis Child. 1991;145(6):609-610. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1991.02160060027014

Despite the high prevalence of parental alcoholism and its many serious consequences, pediatricians have little awareness of the drinking problems in the families of the patients they treat.

The article by Duggan et al1 in this issue of AJDC speaks for itself. My comments only underscore the points these authors have made so well. Particularly important is the question "Why?" Why do pediatricians do such a poor job of recognizing alcohol problems? Implicit in the article and my comments is a plea; a plea to do a better job.

The findings of Duggan et al should come as no surprise. Fewer than half of US medical schools provide any formal instruction in alcohol or drug treatment.2 The findings highlight the sorry state of physician interest in and involvement with the major health problems associated with alcohol use.

When the families of 147 pediatric inpatients