It's a hotly debated topic among many parents. Is it okay to give your children sips of alcohol?
While research has shown there may be negative consequences among kids 12 and older, experts say little is known about how the practice may affect younger ones and according to data cited by one of the study authors from the Addiction Research Center at the University of Michigan, by age 8 about 1/3 of children have had a taste of alcohol.
This new research focused on an on-going study looking at risk factors for early onset alcohol use. 452 boys and girls were interviewed. All were 8 or 10 years old at the start. Their parents were also questioned.
The data showed two main things:
First, children who sipped alcohol before age 12 reported that their parents were more approving of kids tasting alcohol and more likely to drink themselves. Their parents echoed the same sentiments.
Second, young children who sipped alcohol did not appear to be at increased risk of behaviors like problem drinking, drug use or delinquent behavior compared to children who did not.
The study authors are quick to point out that these findings do not support the belief that drinking experiences for children with their parents are the best way to socialize them to normal drinking. They say the long-term effects still remain unclear and they are asking parents to be more cautious about the messages they are sending to their children about alcohol.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines, with health information for your entire family.