LONDON, July 8 /PRNewswire/ --

- With Photo

Divorcing parents who embark on a hedonistic lifestyle are in danger of losing
custody of their children thanks to a growing trend in hair test requests to
gauge how often they get drunk.

There are already approximately 5,000 'hair alcohol tests' carried out on
parents in the UK every year. These are mostly requested by Social
Services/Family Law Courts and divorce lawyers to help decide who is granted
custody of children. The tests can tell how much a person has drunk over a one
to 12 month period - distinguishing between social drinkers and those that abuse
alcohol. Alcohol abuse is a broad term used to describe anything from occasional
binge-drinking through to the medically-diagnosed 'alcohol dependent' (average
of 7.5 units or more a day). Over a third of hair samples taken test positive to
alcohol dependency with many of those results becoming the deciding factor in a
custody ruling.

In a recent study of 1,500 such tests carried out on UK parents by London-based
Trimega Laboratories over the past 12 months, 35% of those requested to provide
samples were alcohol-dependent - with fathers just ahead of mothers at 38%
versus 32%. Regionally, the Welsh returned the highest proportion of positive
samples with the West Midlands not far behind, let down by mothers who - at 45%
- tip the scales for women throughout England Wales. See table attached.

Since hair growth is fed by the bloodstream, the ingestion of excess alcohol in
the blood is revealed by analysing chemical markers absorbed by the hair. As the
hair grows, it absorbs these markers into its structure, which remain in the
hair indefinitely. These markers are only produced when there is alcohol in the
bloodstream. The more markers there are, the more has been consumed. A tuft of
hair about the diameter of a pencil is required and the length of time tested
for depends on the length available. If no head hair is available, body hair can
be used instead. Samples must be taken by a trained collector and results, which
are accepted by all UK courts, are generally available in seven to 10 working
days from receipt of the sample.

Note to Editors

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SOURCE: Trimega Laboratories Ltd

Further information: Nick Heath (Ink PR) +44(0)20-7654-0730 / +44(0)7720-297972,