Young Kids and Booze: Tasting Common
By Age 10, 48% of Kids Have Sipped Alcohol, Study Shows
WebMD News Archive
Kids and Alcohol: Study Results
"A fairly large proportion of children have some personal experience
with alcohol by age 8 or 10," Donovan says. "So we really shouldn't be
talking about adolescence as a time when experimenting with alcohol
Most of the early sipping and tasting, he found, occurred at home or family
celebrations or at religious services. "Sipping and tasting is done in the
home, not [typically] done with peers, is more likely to happen if parents are
drinkers themselves," he says. "And it's not due to parents actually
giving the children a drink, necessarily. A lot of times the kids grab the
drink that was there or they found the bottle around the house."
Among the other findings:
- While sipping was common, it wasn't usually frequent. While 62% of the
8-year-olds had sipped just once, 54% of the 10-year-olds had only sipped
- Boys and girls were about equally likely to sip and taste.
- White children were about twice as likely as African-Americans to have
tasted or sipped alcohol.
- Sipping and tasting rates weren't different for kids in single-parent
households compared with those whose mothers had a husband or partner in
- Sipping and tasting with friends or alone was rare; only 2% of each age
group reported these behaviors.
Parents weren't always aware of their children's experimenting. "When we
asked parents if they knew if their child had sipped or tasted, a third of the
moms didn't know and half of the dads didn't know," Donovan says.
Kids and Booze: Findings 'Make Sense'
The study results are no surprise to Robert A. Zucker, PhD, director of the
Addiction Research Center at the University of Michigan Medical School, Ann
Arbor, who was the review editor for the paper.
"At first glance, the numbers may be a surprise to those who have not
reflected on it," he says. But the findings, including the fact that most
of the sips and tastes are done at home, make sense if you take a step back, he
The data on sipping and tasting are a valuable addition to what experts know
about early alcohol use, Zucker tells WebMD. Early drinkers -- those who do
more than sip and taste before age 14 -- are four times as likely to become
alcoholics, he says.
Now, researchers can investigate what effect sipping and tasting in
childhood may have on later alcohol problems.