Health officials at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago are bracing themselves for what is expected to be another spike in underage alcohol-related admissions during Lollapalooza weekend.
The annual music festival kicks off on July 28 in Grant Park. A new study led by pediatric specialists at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago found overall hospitalizations decreased by 27 percent in 2015, with 88 teens being treated for alcohol poisoning. It’s a drop from 121 admissions in 2014. Still, data shows during the three-day weekend teen intoxication is nearly 9 times higher than that on average weekend in the city.
Emergency room visits during Lollapalooza are more than three times higher than Halloween, which Lurie’s research showed to have the second highest admission rates. It is also more than five times higher than admissions over Cinco de Mayor and St. Patrick’s Day holiday weekends.
“Lollapalooza is unlike any other weekend in Chicago with many more underage alcohol-related hospital visits than during any other holiday or music festival weekend,” said Nina Alfieri, MD, the lead researcher for this project and Chief Resident at Lurie Children’s.
According to the data, half of the teenagers who were sent to the emergency room during Lollapalooza weekend in years past were 16 to 18 years old, and predominately white girls from the city’s suburbs.
“While the City’s policies and procedures around underage drinking at Lollapalooza are strict and getting stricter each year, what we are finding is that teen attendees of this festival are creative in obtaining alcohol,” Robert Tanz, MD, general pediatrician at Lurie Children’s and Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. “While we are pleased that there has been a reduction in hospitalizations last year, there is more work to be done to protect minors who attend summer festivals and year-round as well.”