Most parents of children aged 10-17 years have talked to them about alcohol consumption, but many do not consider brain health to be an important reason to avoid underage drinking, according to a recent survey of 1,000 parents.

The 76% of parents who reported having at least one conversation about alcohol was up by 7% from a survey conducted in 2003, the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility said.

Parents who have not discussed underage drinking with their children in the past year said that their child was too young (46%) or that they trusted them (37%), the foundation said in its report “A lifetime of conversations: Kids, alcohol, and the developing brain.”

As for the most important reasons to avoid alcohol, 79% said that it interferes with judgment and the ability to make good decisions, and 77% mentioned the unintended consequences of consuming too much. Slightly more than 40% did not include its effects on brain development, the report said.

“Adolescence includes critical phases in brain development. The area of the brain that controls reasoning – helps us think before we act – matures later in the third decade of life. The sooner that parents speak with their children about the dangers of drinking alcohol underage, the better,” said Deborah Gilboa, MD, a Pittsburgh family physician who serves on the foundation’s education advisory board.

The survey was conducted online by GfK between Nov. 10 and 12, 2017, among adults aged 18 years and over with at least one child aged 10-17 years. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the full sample.

rfranki@mdedge.com

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