UPDATE: Doctors say possible health risks for legally drunk boy - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

UPDATE: Doctors say possible health risks for legally drunk boy

WAUSAU (WAOW) - Wausau Police say a 12-year-old Wausau boy received hospital treatment after officers found him legally drunk.

Neighbors reported to police that the boy appeared drunk at a Wausau home west of the 400 block on Saturday night.

"He was very intoxicated even for an adult," said Lt. Mark Pankow of the Wausau Police Dept. "He was well over a legal limit for an adult and obviously for a boy that young that's an extra dangerous situation."

Police say the boy was taken to Aspirus Wausau Hospital after he told investigators he had been drinking vodka.

The boy told officers he drinks about once every three days.

Doctors say that amount is alarming.

"It's very concerning," said Dr. Larry Gordon, a pediatric specialist at Aspirus Weston Clinic. "A child this age should never be drinking."

Gordon says alcohol affects children more than adults.

"Your brain is more susceptible to damage at a younger age, your liver is more susceptible and if you start drinking at a young age you're more likely to develop bad habits," said Gordon.

Officers and doctors say this incident brings light to Wisconsin's "drinking culture."

According to a Wisconsin Department of Health Services report, Wisconsin has a higher rate of underage drinking compared to the national average.

The report also says about 20 percent of Wisconsin high school students say they started drinking before they turned 13 years old.

"The best thing that parents can do is not ignore it and bring it out in the open, make sure their children understand the problem with drinking and that it shouldn't be done," said Gordon.

The boy's mother told police she didn't know her son was drinking alcohol.

She told them she only let him drink on special occasions.

Officers say after the 12-year-old boy received treatment, he went to a juvenile shelter.

"Hopefully, corrections will be made so the boy gets back on track," said Pankow.

Officers say they're recommending the 44-year-old mother be charged with child neglect.


WAUSAU (WAOW) - A 12-year-old Wausau boy who told police he drinks alcohol about "every three days or so" was taken to a hospital legally drunk and kept overnight, an investigator said Monday.

Police were called to the 700 block of South First Avenue Saturday night after a neighbor of the boy reported he was intoxicated, Lt. Mark Pankow said.

A blood test at the hospital determined the boy's blood-alcohol level was "well over" the legal limit to drive, which is 0.08 percent, Pankow said.

"He admitted to drinking vodka," the lieutenant said. "He said he drinks alcohol about every three days or so."

Pankow said someone as young as 12 getting intoxicated to the point of needing a doctor's care probably has happened before in Wausau, "but I don't recall any recent events for anybody that young."

Investigators found empty alcohol containers in the boy's room at his home and his mother denied that she knew he had been drinking or where the alcohol came from, Pankow said.

But the 44-year-old mother told police that she had allowed her son to drink on special occasions in the past, the lieutenant said.

The boy was taken to a juvenile shelter after being released from the hospital and police are recommending that the mother be charged with child neglect, Pankow said.

"It is a tragic situation no matter how you look at it," Pankow said. "He's not at the age to legally consume and not at an age to make a decision to do it. He shouldn't have access. It's as simple as that."

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