Q. Should pediatricians expert alcohol use in school-aged children and young adolescents?

A. Age 9 is not too young to start addressing alcohol issues with patients and their parents. Our best national data supporting this come from the Monitoring the Future Study, conducted each year by the University of Michigan among 8th-, 10th-, and 12th-graders.

Data from 1995 showed eighth-graders were more likely to recall earlier alcohol use than were older students. About 30 percent of eighth-graders reported using "more than just a few sips" of alcohol by the end of sixth grade. First use was reported during fourth grade by almost 10 percent, fifth grade by 8 percent and sixth grade by 12 percent. However, only about 16 percent of 10th-graders and 10 percent of 12th-graders remembered using alcohol by the end of sixth grade.

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