According to researchers from Rhode Island-based Brown University, children who get a taste of their parents' drinks now and then are more likely than their peers to start drinking by high school.

Of the 561 students in the study, those who had "sipped" alcohol by the sixth grade were five times more likely than their peers to down a full drink by the time they are in high school.They were four times more likely to have binged or been drunk. It is possible that those little tastes of alcohol send young kids a "mixed message."

"At that age, some kids may have difficulty understanding the difference between a sip of wine and having a full beer," explained Kristina Jackson from the centre for alcohol and addiction studies at Brown University. We are not trying to say whether it's "OK" or "not OK" for parents to allow this.

Still, she noted, some parents do believe in the "European model" -- the idea that introducing kids to alcohol early at home will teach them about responsible drinking and lessen the 'taboo' appeal of alcohol. "Our study provides evidence to the contrary," Jackson noted in a paper that appeared in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

She stressed that parents should not be alarmed if they have already let their child have a taste of wine."We are not saying your child is doomed," the authors noted.The findings do highlight the importance of giving kids "clear, consistent messages" about drinking and making sure they cannot get hold of any alcohol kept in the house.


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