Parents are being urged not to give their children alcohol as a reward for finishing their exams after it emerged more than 15,000 intoxicated youngsters were admitted to hospital in just three years.

The charity Drinkaware says around one in four parents will give their children alcohol this summer to help celebrate the end of the school term.

Its report found that on average, children aged 14 to 17 will be given nine units of alcohol - the equivalent of four cans of beer, a bottle of wine or a third of a bottle of vodka at post-exam parties, holidays or festivals.

The study also found that more than half (54%) of parents had given their child a drink outside of the exam celebration period, with 86% admitting they had done so because their child asked for it.

Drinkaware said that 15,000 children were taken to hospital between 2010 and 2013 because of excessive alcohol, yet 20% of parents have no understanding of any medical guidance surrounding children consuming alcohol.

Elaine Hindal, chief executive of Drinkaware, said: "The average amount some parents are providing is equivalent to a whole bottle of wine, and that is more than enough to get a 15 year old drunk.

No parent wants to think of their child out on their own being drunk and vulnerable, but effectively that is what we could be facilitating by giving alcohol as a reward.

"It is illegal for parents to purchase alcohol on behalf of someone under 18. Worse still, it normalises a culture of excessive drinking among young people.

"We want to reassure parents that not all young people drink alcohol, and that it is important to support children to celebrate without it, whether they are going on holiday for the first time with their friends or attending a school prom party."