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Tuesday, March 31st, 2015
Allowing your child to sip a glass of Chardonnay at the next family gathering may not be as harmless as you once thought. The latest research suggests that children who are allowed occasional tastes of alcohol are more likely to start drinking once they’re in high school.
Research was collected from 561 Rhode Island students who were periodically surveyed over three years, beginning in sixth grade (approximately 11 years old). At the start 26 percent of the children said they had sipped alcohol, and that it was commonly provided to them by a parent. And about 40 percent of kids were first introduced to wine while 35 percent were introduced to beer.
The study, which was conducted by Brown University and published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, concluded that children who had sipped alcohol by sixth grade were five times more likely than their peers to consume a full alcoholic drink in ninth grade, and four times more likely to have binged on alcohol or been drunk. Surprisingly, even when variables like problematic child behavior or a parent’s heavy drinking habits were controlled, the same patterns still existed.
The US has one of the highest binge drinking rates in the world, while Europe has a more casual, social attitude toward drinking. Experts usually chalk this difference up to cultural differences, but these findings clearly dispute the European-based beliefs that introducing alcohol in a calm, family setting at a young age will lessen the forbidden-but-tempting nature of alcohol later on.
Professor David J. Hanson, who has researched alcohol-consumption behaviors for over 40 years, told TODAY, “It isn’t the fact that alcohol went down their gullet [that caused teen drinking]. It’s what meaning the alcohol has to them and what their expectations are about it. These are really important things.”
If you do let your kid sample your drink in the future, avoid being too lenient about experimentation, which can lead to mixed messages and confusion. Instead, deliver very clear and consistent messages about alcohol by asserting that kids follow the rules for drinking legally at age 21.
Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She’s a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn
Image: Girl grabbing alcohol via Shutterstock
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Monday, October 6th, 2014
Women hoping to get pregnant aren’t the only 0nes who should cut back on alcohol consumption, new research suggests.
According to a recent study published in the British Medical Journal men who drank alcohol “moderately”—that’s five or more drinks a week—were found to have poorer sperm quality than those who drank less.
“Quality” was defined in the study as total sperm count and sperm size, among other factors.
The study looked at roughly 1,200 Danish men ages 18-28 who, besides their sperm quality, were otherwise considered healthy.
Drinking alcohol in the preceding week before the men were tested was also linked to changes in their reproductive hormone levels—testosterone levels rose while sex hormone binding globuline (SBHG) fell.
Researchers are wary to say just yet that alcohol consumption causes poor sperm quality because this is the first study of its kind. The findings could also show that men who naturally have lower sperm quality are more likely to drink more.
But, they left the bottom line at this: “It remains to be seen whether semen quality is restored if alcohol intake is reduced, but young men should be advised that high habitual alcohol intake may affect not only their general health, but also their reproductive health.”
Trying to get pregnant? Give our ovulation predictor a try.
Photo of cocktail courtesy of Shutterstock.
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Thursday, January 9th, 2014
Middle- and high-school students who drink alcohol may actually be getting a social payoff for their behavior in the form of a greater number of friends, according to a new study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors. Reuters has more:
Previous studies have found friend groups can influence choices about alcohol, but haven’t looked at the possible social payoffs of drinking.
“There has not been much data to support that drinking among teenagers directly leads to higher popularity and more friendships,” said Peter Delany. He is the director of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality in Rockville, Maryland.
Delany was not part of the study team, which was led by Mir M. Ali, also from SAMHSA.
“The fact remains that underage drinking is linked to a long list of adverse health and behavioral consequences, including the deaths of thousands of adolescents and young adults each year,” Delany told Reuters Health in an email.
Ali and colleagues analyzed data from a national study of 7th through 12th graders from 132 schools who were surveyed in 1994. The survey included a variety of questions on drinking and substance use, number of friends, friends of friends, home life and other factors.
Teens who reported occasional drinking and getting drunk tended to have higher “social connectedness” than their abstaining peers. That was especially true for white students.
Getting drunk seemed to be more important for popularity than just drinking in general. Kids who drank at all reported having an extra half a friend, on average, and those who got drunk reported one additional friend compared to non-drinkers.
The findings “provide new evidence on the motivation behind adolescent drinking,” the researchers wrote in the journal Addictive Behaviors.
The researchers added that healthy behaviors, like participating in sports, are also linked with better social connectedness.
Image: Teens drinking beer, via Shutterstock
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Thursday, December 19th, 2013
Sixty percent of U.S. high school seniors believe that smoking marijuana poses no health risks, according to newly released survey data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. CNN.com has more:
More than a third of the seniors surveyed reported smoking marijuana in the past 12 months.
Each year, the Monitoring the Future survey asks eighth-, 10th- and 12th-graders about their drug and alcohol use and their attitudes toward illegal substances. For 2013, more than 41,000 students from 389 U.S. public and private schools participated.
Only 2.4% of high school seniors reported using marijuana daily in 1993; this year that percentage nearly tripled – to 6.5 %. And it’s not just the older students – more than 12% of the eighth-graders surveyed said they had used marijuana.
“It is important to remember that over the past two decades, levels of THC – the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana – have gone up a great deal,” said Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in a statement. “Daily use today can have stronger effects on a developing teen brain than it did 10 or 20 years ago. … The children whose experimentation leads to regular use are setting themselves up for declines in IQ and diminished ability for success in life.”
Teens also continue to abuse prescription medications such as Adderall, which is commonly used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, and Vicodin. But while alcohol use is still high – close to 40% of seniors reported drinking in the past month – it’s been on a steady decline since its peak in 1997.
Image: Marijuana, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, November 13th, 2013
Teenagers–especially heterosexual teens–who are either bullied or who are both bullies and victims of bullying are more likely to exhibit risky sexual behaviors, a new Boston University study has found. More from Reuters:
“Some previous research has found that aggression and sexual risk-taking are related, so it was not entirely surprising that bullies and bully-victims reported more sexual risk-taking than their peers,” Melissa K. Holt said.
What’s more, some research has found that kids and teens cope with being bullied by using drugs or alcohol, for instance. Acting out sexually may be another way young people respond to bullying, Holt told Reuters Health.
She led the research at the Boston University School of Education.
The study included almost 9,000 high school students from 24 schools who completed a survey about bullying and sexual behavior. “Risky sex” was defined as casual sex and sex while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About 80 percent of the students said they had not bullied other kids or been bullied themselves.
Seven percent of those teens reported ever having casual sex with someone they had just met or didn’t know very well. And 12 percent said they had had sex under the influence.
The numbers were similar for students who said they had been bullied, but hadn’t bullied others.
But among the six percent of kids who claimed to have acted as bullies, one quarter had engaged in casual sex and just over a third said they’d had sex while drunk or high.
Another six percent of students said they had both acted as bullies and been the victims of bulling. Of those teens, 20 percent had had casual sex and 23 percent reported having sex under the influence.
The researchers accounted for other childhood experiences that might lead to sexual risk-taking, but the link to bullying remained.
Image: Bully, via Shutterstock
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