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Underage drinking starts before adolescence
Date:8/30/2007

WASHINGTON, DC, August 31, 2007 As schools reopen around the country, a new study finds that parents and teachers should pay attention to alcohol prevention starting as early as fourth grade.

A review of national and statewide surveys conducted over the last 15 years shows that among typical 4th graders, 10% have already had more than a sip of alcohol and 7% have had a drink in the past year. While the numbers are small in the fourth grade, the surveys show that the percent of children who have used alcohol increases with age, and doubles between grades four and six. The largest jump in rates occurs between grades five and six, according to John E. Donovan, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychiatry and epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. He is author of the study, Really Underage Drinkers: The Epidemiology of Childrens Alcohol Use in the United States, published in the September issue of Prevention Science, a peer-reviewed journal of the Society for Prevention Research (SPR).

Dr. Donovan said that although there are many published national surveys of alcohol use among adolescents, national surveys and those conducted by state governments that have looked at alcohol use among young children are often unpublished. He found that 39 of the 50 states have conducted statewide surveys that included children in the 6th grade or younger. His study summarized the results of the available national surveys as well as the statewide surveys conducted by Arizona, Delaware, New York, Ohio and Texas, which included fourth and fifth graders.

Several of the surveys conducted on a regular basis since 1990 show that the numbers of elementary school children who have ever used alcohol, who have used alcohol in the past year, and who have used alcohol in the past month have all decreased significantly over time. But the numbers are still alarming because of the connection between early alcohol consumption and negative outcomes later duri
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Contact: Prabhu Ponkshe
prabhu@healthmatrixinc.com
703-918-4860
Society for Prevention Research
Source:Eurekalert

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