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Alcohol Clin Exp Res. 2009 Nov;33(11):1966-72. doi: 10.1111/j.1530-0277.2009.01035.x. Epub 2009 Aug 31.

Drinking alcohol before age 13 and negative outcomes in late adolescence.

Author information

1
University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Miami, FL 33136, USA. npelegoren@med.miami.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Research has shown that adolescents who begin drinking at an early stage in life are at greater risk of developing alcohol dependency, as well as a variety of negative outcomes, for instance, delinquent behavior. Most of these studies have focused on those who begin drinking in middle adolescence, but little attention has been paid to youth who initiate drinking under the age of 13. Twenty percent of adolescents have begun using alcohol by the age of 13. The purpose of the study is to examine whether initiating alcohol use before the age of 13 exacerbates negative outcomes in late adolescence.

METHODS:

Data for the study were derived from 2 school-based statewide surveys conducted in Florida: the 2005 YRBS and the 2006 FYSAS. The sample included 12,352 11th and 12th grade students divided into 3 groups: students who initiated alcohol use under the age of 13, students who initiated alcohol use at age 13 or later, and students who never used alcohol.

RESULTS:

Results showed that after adjusting for gender, ethnicity/race, and grade, adolescents who initiated alcohol use before age 13 were more likely to report problems with school performance and display delinquent behaviors (carrying a gun, carrying a weapon to school, and recent marijuana use).

CONCLUSION:

Although no temporal relationships can be determined between drinking alcohol before age 13 and delinquent behavior outcomes, the results suggested that adolescents under the age of 13 need to be included in national epidemiological surveys on alcohol use and more efforts need to be directed toward the implementation of prevention programs early in elementary and middle schools.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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