Dutch Researchers Link Puberty, Sleep Problems, Alcohol Abuse

Teenagers who are just entering puberty often experience sleep disorders, such as trouble falling asleep, staying asleep, being overtired in the daytime. Now a new study from University Nijmegen finds a link between early puberty, sleep problems and alcohol abuse. Some teenagers may be using alcohol in order to fall asleep.

Professor Carmen Van der Zwaluw studied 430 children ages 11 to 14 years old, and found that entering puberty was related to sleep problems and later bedtimes, which in turn correlate with experiments with alcohol.

The study appeared in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

Report Indicates Heavy Drinking Among British Youth

Teen alcohol abuse remains a prevalent problem in the United States — but a recent article in the British press indicates that other nations are also struggling to combat the problem of underage drinking.

According to a Jan. 28 article by Daniel Martin of the MailOnline news site, young Britons are consuming alcohol at a troubling rate:

A survey of 23,000 youngsters found that in some parts of the country more than a quarter of 11 to 15-year-olds said they had alcohol at least once in the past week.

The regional breakdown found the North-East to be the worst area. There, those who drank consumed an average of 17.7 units a week – equivalent to nine pints of beer or one bottle of wine.

Among boys, this rises to 20.2 units – and because it is just an average, many are claiming to be drinking far more.

Desire for Thrills Prompts Teens to Take Risks

Teenagers take risks because they like the thrill, not because they have problems understanding the consequences of their behavior, according to a new study from University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience.

Professor Stephanie Burnett and her colleagues studied 86 males, ages 9 to 35 as they played a computer gambling game, and found that the 14-year-olds were the most likely to choose the riskiest maneuvers.

“This is the first evidence from a laboratory-based study that adolescents are risk takers,” said Dr. Burnett. “The onset of adolescence marks an explosion in risky activities — from dangerous driving, unsafe sex, and experimentation with alcohol to poor dietary habits and physical and activity.”

The study appeared in the journal Cognitive Development.

Mom’s Lifestyle May Put Kids at Risk for Alcohol Abuse

A mother’s lifestyle and methods of parenting her children are factors in whether they are likely to drink alcohol as young teenagers, according to a new study from the University of Queensland.

Dr. Rosa Alti and her colleagues studied 4158 mothers and children and found that if a mother exerted a low-level of parental control when her child was under age 5 years old, and if the mother had more two or more partners before her child was 14 years old, the child was more likely to drink alcohol. The risk for problem drinking at age 14 years old was twice as high in children of mothers that had both factors.

The study appeared in the journal Addiction.