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BY KEVIN NGUYENUPDATED WED AT 5:41AM

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Parents are being asked to reconsider allowing their kids to drink alcohol these holidays.

PIXABAY

Thinking about giving a child wine or beer during Christmas dinner? Researchers say even a "sip" could lead to toxic drinking habits as they become older.

Key points:

  • Drinking even once as a child was associated with binge drinking in later years
  • A researcher said Australia had an unhealthy approach to alcohol compared to other countries
  • Health authorities have revised their "safe" levels of alcohol consumption to 10 standard drinks a week

The National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre (NDARC) said it was conventional wisdom among parents that giving their underage children was a safe way to introduce them to drinking.

But the centre has published the results of an ongoing study about parental supply of alcohol — so far tracking 1,927 children from Year 7 to Year 12 — which indicated otherwise.

Amy Peacock, a senior research fellow at NDARC, said there was no benefit to supervising children's alcohol consumption and it was instead likely to increase how often adolescents drank.

"Providing alcohol, even if in the form of sips rather than full drinks, is associated with increased risks of later binge drinking and harms," Dr Peacock said.

She said even if a child drinks only once, especially when they are under 16 years old, it was more likely they would become regular drinkers in their senior years of high school.

"The sooner an adolescent is introduced to alcohol, the greater the chance they could be affected by harms like violence and serious accidents caused by drinking," she said.

"Also the greater change with an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, like binge drinking and dependence."

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