Developmental processes and mechanisms: ages 0-10

Alcohol Res Health. 2009;32(1):16-29.


Little information is available on alcohol use in children up to age 10, although rates appear to be low. This age-group is not without risk, however. In fact, numerous nonspecific and specific risk factors for subsequent alcohol use are prevalent in childhood. Alcohol-nonspecific risk factors include externalizing and internalizing behaviors, as well as environmental and social factors (e.g., stress, physical abuse, or other aspects of social interaction). Nonspecific childhood factors (i.e., predictors) are being identified to target specific population subgroups for preventive interventions. These efforts have identified a variety of predictors of drinking onset during childhood or early adolescence that predict adolescent and young-adult problem drinking, as well as adult alcohol use and alcohol use disorders. Alcohol-specific risk factors also are being identified, including children's beliefs and expectancies about alcohol, as well as childhood social contexts (e.g., modeling of alcohol use by parents, portrayal of alcohol use in the mass media, and growing up in a family with an alcoholic family member). Together, these specific and nonspecific influences play a heavy role in determining a child's risk of or resilience to later alcohol use and related problems.