NEWS

Children at risk from mimicking their parents’ vices

Parents are setting their children a bad example every time they light a cigarette or have an alcoholic drink. Every year 1,000 children are taken to hospital emergency rooms after being poisoned by swallowing cigarettes. Meanwhile, pediatricians treat about 100 cases of inebriated children every year. According to Professor Andreas Constantopoulos, of Athens University’s School of Pediatrics and president of the Greek Pediatric Society, one in 10 children brought to outpatients’ departments because of poisoning have swallowed cigarettes. At a recent press conference marking the opening of the 41st Panhellenic Pediatrics Conference that ends this weekend on the island of Rhodes, he said that alcohol poisoning was a frequent phenomenon among young children and teenagers. Every year, over 100 children aged 10-15 are admitted, often in a comatose state, after consuming alcohol. Both these phenomena are mainly due to children imitating their parents’ habits. The conference is also to focus on allergies, including a Greek «first,» which is an allergic reaction to grapes. In the last five years, over 100 children have been hospitalized suffering from anaphylactic shock after eating grapes. Doctors are concerned because such cases have not been recorded outside Greece. Experts are studying the causes, which could be linked to the hormones and pesticides used in cultivating the fruit. Another issue is that of new vaccines. Constantopoulos said the national vaccination committee has decided to replace old vaccines for diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough and hepatitis B with a new one that has proved more effective. As for the tuberculosis vaccine, it was decided not to make vaccinations obligatory for children in the first year of primary school, but only to vaccinate children from minority groups that have a high incidence of the disease.