Children with advanced verbal abilities are more likely to drink as adolescents, a new study has found. Finnish researchers conducted two surveys of twins, including a total of 5,457 families. Parents were asked to remember when each twin reached certain milestones, and their other traits in childhood.
Then, the twins were surveyed about their smoking, drinking and drug habits at least four times between ages 11 and 25. The twin in a family who started talking first, who read first and who was more expressive as a child was also more likely to start drinking first.
The language-alcohol link held true for both surveys of twins; the set born between 1975 and 1979 and the set born between 1983 and 1987, 'Live Science' reported. Children with advanced language skills also drank more often, and became more intoxicated when they drank. Also, they were more likely to report a "sensation seeking" personality trait.
"The finding of these studies were partly surprising to us," said study researcher Antti Latvala, of the University of Helsinki. However, the study could not determine whether the advanced language skills caused the drinking behaviour. One reason behind this link could be the better the child communicates, the more friends he or she has, and the more likely the teen is invited to a party with alcohol. "Teens very rarely drink alone," Latvala said. Also, there could be some connection between language skills and the thrill-seeking personality trait found among the drinking teens in the study.
Researchers cautioned that the study didn't follow the teens long enough to see who ended up abusing alcohol, and there is a difference between teenage drinking, and teenage problem drinking. The study was published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.