Overall, teen alcohol use has declined during the past two decades, but social scientists are worried about the number of high school students who report dangerous levels of binge drinking, according to recent findings published in JAMA Pediatrics and reported by the Grio.

For the study, spanning from 2005 to 2011, researchers asked almost 16,330 high school seniors nationwide how many times they had consumed five or more alcoholic beverages consecutively—considered binge drinking—at least once during the previous two weeks. (Scientists included a 12-ounce container of beer, a 4-ounce glass of wine, a mixed drink, a wine cooler or a shot of liquor.)

During this time, the lowest level of binge drinking was 18 percent. In addition, 10 percent of the students admitted to having 10 or more drinks in one sitting, and 6 percent said they drank at least 15 alcoholic beverages—what scientists consider extreme binge drinking.

“To our knowledge, this is the first national study to date to examine extreme binge drinking among youth,” said Megan E. Patrick, PhD, the principal investigator and coauthor of the study.

Patrick and other experts consider this kind of adolescent alcohol use to be a public health problem because it puts youth at risk of alcohol poisoning, liver damage, alcoholism, brain damage and other health problems. (Researchers said about 5,000 youths younger than 21 die from alcohol-related deaths each year.)

Interestingly, the study also broke down teen drinking habits among geographical and racial lines. Researchers found that African-American teens were the least likely population group in the United States to engage in heavy drinking. This is despite the fact that alcohol is the most used drug by black teenagers.

What’s more, findings from a 2012 report conducted by the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at John’s Hopkins School of Public Health also showed that, on average, minority teens are exposed to more alcohol advertising than youths from other groups.

Those who were most likely to binge drink tended to be young men, particularly white students in the South and in rural areas.

High school students aren’t the only ones hurting their health with binge drinking. Research from the American Heart Association shows that college students who are heavy drinkers might increase their risk of cardiovascular disease. Click here to read more.