Nearly half of 10-year-olds may have tasted alcohol, although many of their parents donít know about it, a new study
The findings, published in the January issue of Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, are among the first to track experimental tasting of alcohol by young children. Most studies look at whether children have taken more than just sips and have actually consumed alcoholic beverages.
Researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Michigan conducted a phone survey with a random sample of 452 boys and girls between the ages of 8 and 10. The researchers asked the children about sipping or tasting alcoholic beverages and also talked to them about their parentsí drinking behavior. Later, the researchers interviewed the parents.
They found that 35 percent of 8-year-olds and 48 percent of 10-year-olds had sipped an alcoholic beverage, whereas only 6 percent of kids had consumed a whole drink. Most of the time, the child had tasted alcohol during family gatherings or at church. The findings also showed that in homes where parents drink, young kids were more likely to have tried alcohol.
Although thereís no evidence that experimental tasting of alcohol leads to problem behavior, itís notable that in many cases, the parents werenít the ones providing the sips. One out of three parents werenít aware their kids had ever tasted alcohol, the study showed. For parents, the data showed that children are naturally curious about alcohol, particularly when they see parents drink it, and itís never too early to explain the risks and responsibilities associated with alcohol consumption.