August 14, 2009

New Project Aims to Help Parents Give Their Kids an Alcohol-free Childhood

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Christine Jackson
Christine Jackson

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C.—As part of an effort to reduce the number of children who start using alcohol by sipping others' drinks, researchers at RTI International will develop and test a home-based program designed to promote an alcohol-free childhood.

RTI researchers were awarded a $3 million grant from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to help parents and children recognize and prevent the long-term consequences of initiating alcohol use during childhood.

"Many parents think that letting children sip drinks will prevent risky drinking during the teenage years," said Christine Jackson, Ph.D., from the Community Health Promotion Research program in the Public Health and Environment division at RTI. "However, research indicates that this is not the case. Starting alcohol use during childhood, even at very low levels, is strongly associated with habitual alcohol use and high-risk alcohol use during adolescence."

The researchers will follow the study participants for four years after the start of the program to see if the children exposed to the program are significantly less likely to initiate alcohol use than those who were not.

This research is being conducted in collaboration with Susan Ennett, Ph.D., a professor in the School of Public Health at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.