Any Alcohol Before Age 16 is Dangerous, Says Study

Giving your child their first sip of beer or wine marks a rite of passage in many societies of the world. Most European cultures hold the belief that giving your kids a controlled amount of alcohol during their youth takes away the mystery and rebellion of heavy drinking, and instead cultivates a more refined, temperate drinking culture. However, according to a new study, giving your child a little tipple here and there may be a bad thing for family wellness, and their personal wellbeing, after all.

Commissioned by the EU, the study shows that even small quantities of alcohol can lead to long-term health problems.  Children are more likely to develop alcoholism, and girls’ wellness is possibly at a greater risk of infertility and breast cancer. Fellow of the United Kingdom’s Royal Society of Medicine Dr Aric Sigman warned the EU’s ‘working group on childhood and adolescence’ that administration of alcohol does not lead to responsible drinking.

Sigman advised that you delay the introduction of alcohol to your children until later ages, at least until after 15, as ‘even small amounts’ of alcohol may harm your child’s young brain. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), ‘The longer the onset of consumption is delayed, the less likely it is that alcohol-related problems and alcohol dependence will emerge in adult life.’

Sigman noted that, in an ideal world, you would never drink before the age of 25, as this allows your brain to reach structural maturity. However, he admitted that 16 might be more realistic, especially if you’re worried that stopping your teenagers from drinking might increase the allure of alcohol outside the home. Yet Sigman still called for the EU to standardise drinking ages in bars and restaurants across Europe to 18.

Sigman said, ‘Protecting our young people from the harm of drinking means that now, in the light of new information about the effects of alcohol, it is necessary to review the way the entire EU views concepts of adulthood and drinking age.’ Eric Appleby, of the UK’s non-profit Alcohol Concern, added, ‘It may feel that introducing children to alcohol in a safe and controlled environment at home is the right thing to do, but all the research indicates that the younger someone starts drinking, the more likely they are to have problems with alcohol in later life.’

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