-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas
FRIDAY, Sept. 9 (HealthDay News) -- Parents who drink -- even
moderately -- may increase the risk that their children will drive
under the influence as adults, a new study has found.
Researchers from the University of Florida found that about 6
percent of teens whose parents drank even occasionally said they
drove under the influence when they reached 21 years of age.
Meanwhile, only 2 percent of those whose parents did not drink
drove under the influence at 21, according to the report published
online and in the November print issue of
Accident Analysis & Prevention.
"The main idea is that parents' alcohol use has an effect on their kids' behavior," study lead author, Mildred Maldonado-Molina, an associate professor of health outcomes and policy with the University of Florida College of Medicine, said in a university news release. "It's important for parents to know that their behavior has an effect not only at that developmental age when their kids are adolescents, but also on their future behavior as young adults."
In conducting the study, the researchers collected information
from nearly 10,000 teens and their parents, and followed up with a
second survey seven years later.
Although parents have more influence on their children than
their kids' friends do, the study found that peer pressure could
also have an influence on the behavior of teens. Teens with friends
that drink alcohol, the researchers revealed, are more likely to
drive under the influence -- even when their parents do not drink
When both their parents and their friends drink alcohol, teens
seem to be at particularly high risk. The study revealed that about
11 percent of these teens were later found to drive under the
influence during their 20s.
Tara Kelley-Baker, a senior research scientist at the Pacific
Institute for Research and Evaluation, who was not involved with
the study, commented on the findings in the university news
release. "I think it is really important to understand the
influence of parents and peers," she said. "Parents must understand
the influence they have on their children. Some parents just assume
they have lost their influence or that they never had it. Research
has shown more and more that this is not the case."
The researchers noted that they were surprised to find that
gender did not play a role in the study's findings. The influence
of parents and friends appeared to affect men and women the same
way. "Their risk factors are similar, and that calls for attention
when developing interventions and prevention efforts," said
The study concluded that efforts to prevent drinking and driving
among young adults must start when kids are younger than 15 years
of age, and parents must also be educated about the consequences of
"The home is a really important source for these kids," said Maldonado-Molina. "(Parents) may not perceive their drinking as negative, but it influences what is acceptable behavior."
The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about
safe driving for teens.
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