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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Giving Your Kids a Taste of Alcohol?

It is a common occurrence for parents to allow their children to have a drink of their alcohol from time to time. A sip here and a sip there may seem fairly benign; however, new research indicates that giving your kids an occasional taste of alcohol may lead to problems down the road.

Researchers found that kids who are given small amounts of alcohol may be more likely than their peers to start drinking by high school, Science Daily reports. However, at Brown University, lead researcher Kristina Jackson, Ph.D., of the Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, says that the findings do not necessarily prove that early sips of alcohol are to blame.

Of 561 students in a long-term study, the children who had had a taste of alcohol by sixth grade were five times more likely than their peers to consume a full alcoholic beverage by the time they were in high school. The researchers found that the same group was four times more likely to have engaged in "binge drinking" or experienced a drunk.

"We're not trying to say whether it's 'OK' or 'not OK' for parents to allow this," Jackson said. She pointed out that some parents believe in the idea that introducing kids to alcohol early, at home, will teach them about responsible drinking - diminishing the appeal of alcohol. This a method of exposure known as the "European model," according to the article.

"Our study provides evidence to the contrary," Jackson said. Although, she says that there are a number of factors to consider when gauging the cause of teenagers' drinking patterns, such as family background as well as a kids' disposition to impulsive behavior.

Even when those factors were considered, Jackson found that there was still a connection between early sipping and risky drinking by high school. She points out that mixed messages might be sent and that children may confuse the difference between having a sip versus having a full drink.

The findings were published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

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