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Will Your Toddler Be a Boozer?

Will your kids start sneaking beers out of your fridge and getting drunk in their teens? Scientists say they can predict the outcome as early as when they’re toddlers, based on their personality.

A new study published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, has found that certain temperaments are prone to drinking. "People don't enter adolescence as blank slates; they have a history of life experiences that they bring with them, dating back to early childhood," said Danielle Dick, a psychologist from at Virginia Commonwealth University and a co-author of the study.

The study followed thousands of newborns from birth to 15-and-a-half years, including personality data taken from the mothers during the children's first five years of life, and from both parents and the subjects themselves in the years after that point. (Previous research also suggests that these personalities are set by 1st grade.)

What the data showed was this: Two vastly different personality types are drawn to drinking alcohol. On one end of the spectrum were emotionally unstable kids who might feel insecure around their peers—no big surprise there. But highly social “extroverts” were also prone to drinking alcohol as well. In other words: both the cool kids and those on the fringes are equally likely to grab some liquor.

"This underscores the fact that drinking during adolescence is largely a social phenomenon," Dick said. "However, this doesn't mean it's less problematic; we know from other studies that most adolescent drinking is high risk—for example, binge drinking—and can lead to numerous negative consequences."

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