Children who learn to speak quickly are more likely to start drinking alcohol at a young age and become heavy drinkers in adulthood, according to a new study.
Research has shown that children with better cognitive and verbal abilities tried alcohol early, and became heavy drinkers in adulthood. While explaining the link between drinking habit and language development, researchers said that language development is a vital sign of cognitive ability.
Antti Latvala, from the University of Helsinki in Finland, and her colleagues reached the conclusion after analysing language development among twin pairs. They drew data from two studies conducted on twins - FinnTwin12 (FT12), who were born between 1983 and 1987 and FinnTwin16 (FT16), who were born between 1975 and 1979. The study included a total of 5,457 twin pairs from both studies who had differences in the development of language in childhood. Families of the participants filled questionnaires at different ages between ages 11 and 25. The questionnaires for parents contained questions related to the participants' language development - the age each twin started saying words, learned to read and their language skills during school days. The participants provided information about their drinking habit.
Researchers identified a direct link between early, better verbal development at childhood and addiction to alcohol in teenage days. "We found that differences in language development in early childhood and school age predict alcohol use behaviors in adolescence and up to young adulthood,"Latvala, corresponding author for the study and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki said in a news release in Eurekalert.
Apart from that, peer influence also played a major role in the occurrence. "We also found that the verbally more advanced co-twins were more likely to have friends who drink in adolescence, and they also reported higher values for the temperament trait 'sensation seeking.' Peer associations and the tendency to seek novel experiences may in part explain the link between better language skills and engaging in drinking behaviors,"Latvala added.
The study will be published in the February 2014 issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
According to health experts from the NHS Choices, UK, daily consumption of more than two to four units of alcohol is unsafe and can pose severe health risks, including cancer of the neck, throat, breast, liver cirrhosis, high blood pressure, poor sleep, depression, weight gain, heart arrhythmia (irregular heartbeat) and sexual problems.