Children who are given a sip of alcohol by their parents at a young age are more likely to booze heavily later in life, a new study suggests.
US researchers found children given a taste of an alcoholic beverage were more likely to see alcohol in a positive light, and go on to drink more alcohol as adults.
Meanwhile, those who start drinking early are also more likely to fail at school and have behaviour issues and substance problems in adulthood, previous research suggests.
The study authors are from Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland.
‘Underage drinking is a serious societal concern, yet relatively little is known about child sipping of alcohol and its relation to beliefs about alcohol,’ they say in their research paper.
‘Providing sips of alcohol to children is associated with them having more favourable expectations about drinking.’
In the UK, it is not actually illegal for a child over the age of five to drink alcohol at home or on other private premises – however, this does not mean it is recommended.
Drink Aware strongly advises an alcohol-free childhood, as recommended by the UK Chief Medical Officer.
It is illegal, however, to give children alcohol if they are under five and to sell alcohol to someone under 18.
It’s common for parents to allow their children occasional sips of alcohol with an innocent intent before the legal drinking age.
Parents are the most frequent suppliers of alcohol to kids with the intention of introducing them to booze in a responsible setting.
Many parents supply sips rather than whole drinks or small watered-down servings of wine with a meal, for example.
But according to the NHS, drinking alcohol can damage a child’s health, even if they’re 15 or older.
Alcohol can affect the normal development of children’s vital organs and functions, including the brain, liver, bones and hormones.
According to the International Alliance for Responsible Drinking (IARD), parents should not give their children even a small glass of beer or wine at dinner.
Last year, the non-profit organisation condemned the trend to introduce children to alcohol at meal times – which is common among middle-class families – in the belief it will teach them to drink responsibly.
‘We call on parents to support us by not buying alcohol for, or sharing alcohol with, children – even if they do this with good intentions,’ said Albert Baladi, IARD chairman.
Kids given sips of booze ‘are more likely to see alcohol positively’ | Daily Mail Online