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Legacy of the ladette: Women's binge drinking is linked to alarming rise in teenage promiscuity and abortions, finds major UK study




By Sophie Borland


Last updated at 10:10 PM on 20th August 2010





The devastating effects of excess alcohol on young women have been spelled out by a major study.

Binge drinking ‘ladettes’ are 40 per cent likelier to have an abortion.

And the proportion of teenage girls who blame alcohol for losing their virginity has more than doubled compared with 60 years ago.


article-1304833-0AD966E6000005DC-168_468x319.jpg Cheers? A hangover may the least of the girl's problems when she sobers up


The study, the most extensive of its kind, paints a disturbing picture of girls having casual, unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol which they often regret as soon as they sober up.

It also shows that the number of people of both sexes drinking to excess has tripled in a decade.

At the same time, official statistics show that the number of abortions has soared to make Britain the termination capital of Europe.

Doctors, meanwhile, are seeing more and more girls wanting the morning-after pill after a night of drunken, unprotected sex.


Researchers from University College London examined the alcohol consumption and sexual activity of almost 25,000 individuals aged 16 to 44 over a ten-year period.








Carry on drinking: A woman attempts to help her friend who is too drunk to get up from the roadside before she gives up and continues to finish her drink


They found that women who drank in excess – more than 14 units a week – were 1.8 times more likely to have taken emergency contraception such as the morning after pill at least once over the last year.

They were also 1.4 times likelier to have had at least one abortion in the last 18 months, according to the study published in the Journal of Public Health.








The number of young girls who blame drink for losing their virginity has risen from 2.4 per cent in the 1940s to 6.4 per cent today.

And official statistics show that the total number of abortions has soared in a generation to reach the highest level in Europe, with around 200,000 now carried out every year in England and Wales.



article-1304833-0AC69D33000005DC-16_468x420.jpg Drunken fun? The number of people drinking to excess has trebled in a decade


In 1969, there were 5.3 terminations per 1,000 women aged 15 to 44. By 2008, the rate had more than tripled to 18.3 per 1,000 women, according to the Office for National Statistics – with the rise particularly marked among teenagers.

Meanwhile, ONS figures show binge drinking among women has doubled in the last ten years.

The sharpest rise in the proportion of women who drink to excess was between 1998 and 2006, when the proportion rose from 8 per cent to 15 percent.

And last year a fifth of all women reported that they were drinking more than 15 units a week.

article-1304833-0269F3A900000578-395_233x423.jpg Teenage girls who blame alcohol for losing their virginity has more than doubled compared to 60 years ago


Family doctors blame soaring levels of binge drinking on a surge in prescriptions for the morning-after pill.

Dr Sarah Jarvis, of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: ‘We have known for years that excessive alcohol use is linked to unprotected sex which can increase the risk of catching sexually transmitted infections.

‘I have seen an increase in patients at my surgery with alcohol problems and from young women requiring emergency contraception over the last few years.

‘Alcohol misuse is now a huge problem and is costing the NHS millions every year.


We should be screening patients for alcohol problems and then offering them brief interventions, which we know can help to tackle the problem.’


Campaigners say teachers and parents are failing to educate young women about the consequences


Rebecca Ng, of the ProLife Alliance, which campaigns against abortion, said: ‘A young woman gets drunk, gets pregnant, well. We obviously need much better education on the dangers of alcohol.


Norman Wells, director of Family and Youth Concern, said: ‘These findings reinforce the fact that parents can never afford to take a casual, laid-back approach to alcohol.

‘It is important that they set an example of moderation in their own drinking habits and exercise control over their children’s exposure to alcohol. The importance of a stable family background and responsible parenting can never be overstated.’

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