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Blood Alcohol Testing: Is PEth is leading the way?

View profile for Chelsea  Harris
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You may be asked to engage in blood alcohol testing. This has now become an essential part in providing an insight into an individual’s alcohol consumption and providing an evidential picture within proceedings before the Family Court.

In Family cases where the safeguarding of children and vulnerable people is paramount, such tests provide a good amount of accurate information which enables family law professionals to act accordingly. Phosphatidylethanol (PEth) has been proven to provide the most conclusive insight into a person’s drinking patterns.

PEth is a direct biomarker of alcohol, and this means that it is only present in the body when alcohol has been consumed. PEth is produced in the body as soon as ethanol (found in all alcoholic beverages) is consumed and will increase with frequent alcohol consumption. It gives a specificity of 48-89 per cent and sensitivity of 88-100 per cent.

Investigations have been completed and this shows that PEth can be detected in the blood after one or two hours and for up to 12 hours after a single drinking episode. PEth can also clearly distinguish from chronic alcohol use and a single drinking episode. This amount of information and the conclusiveness is the reason why PEth testing is the most essential of all blood alcohol tests. It enables the monitoring of abstinence, drinking behaviour and can identify a relapse. These are important factors when working with families and children that are affected by alcohol.

The difference between using hair strand testing for alcohol and the blood testing is that there are lots of factors that can affect the results from hair testing. Ethyl Glucuronide (EtG) and Ethyl Palmitate (EtPa) are what is found in hair after alcohol has been consumed. This can be affected by various hair treatments, hair products such as sprays, gels and wax and excessive washing.

By performing the hair testing and the blood testing together this gives the most accurate picture where conclusions can be drawn as to the amount of alcohol that a person has consumed over a period of time.

If you have been asked to engage in testing of any sort in relation to Local Authority involvement with your children, do not hesitate to give us a call. We can assist offer advice, assistance and representation at all stages of the Local Authority involvement. If you require legal representation at a Child Protection Conference, Pre-Proceedings Meeting or would like advice in relation to your matter do not hesitate to visit our Care Team Page on our website or call our Leicester office on 0116 255 4855 or Loughborough office on 01509 610312.