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Kids who sip alcohol might become problem drinkers

Some parents in South Carolina and throughout the U.S. believe that introducing alcohol to young children in small sips will satisfy their curiosity and lead them not to engage in underage drinking as they get older. Is that really the case?

According to a recent survey, not really.

The survey, published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, polled 1,050 mothers and their third-grade children. It found that as many as 40 percent of parents believe that allowing their children to sample alcohol under their supervision would keep them from drinking in their peer group as they reached middle school and beyond. About a third of the kids interviewed said they had taken sips of alcohol.

Researchers, however, said that studies show that exposure to alcohol at a young age does nothing to prevent drinking in adolescence, and in fact, could enhance it. Previous research has shown that fifth-graders who had sampled alcohol given by their parents were twice as likely to drink in seventh grade. A second study showed that trying alcohol by age 10 led to drinking at age 14.

The lead researcher of the most recent study said that parents who believe in exposing their kids to alcohol also tend to allow their children to play bartender at home or retrieve alcohol from the refrigerator. Parents who allowed their children to sip alcohol more commonly were college-educated, working white women. The researches surmised that demographic could be more proactive with alcohol sampling because this group of mothers might have a greater concern than others about keeping kids from drinking before age 21.

The authors also recommended a public service education program so that parents know that home drinking does not help to stop drinking among teens.

Source: Time, "Should Children Be Allowed to Sip Mommy's Drink?" Alexandra Sifferlin, Sept. 20, 2012

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