Scientists develop a test to predict binge drinking

By Amanda Stewart,

Scientists have developed a way to predict if a teenager will turn to binge drinking by the age of 16.

Scientists have developed a type of testing system that takes 40 different variables into account, according to Tech Times. The test that they have developed has an accuracy of 70 percent and can predict whether a 14-year-old will turn to binge drinking by age 16.

Subjects included over 2,000 14-year-olds from Ireland, Germany, England and France. Those who participated in the observation were given an assessment and also observed for a few years.

Brain scans would be the more time effective solution, but brain scans are costly. Scientists say that it is not possible to conduct the test on a larger scale because of the high price of the scans.

Dr Robert Whelan, of University College Dublin, told BBC, "There is no one really big thing. It's a bunch of little things adding up to give you this prediction.”

Factors that are considered during the assessment are personality, family history and events that have occurred in the life of the teen, plus a few more variables.

Teens with bigger brains are more prone to binge drinking, according to the findings. Generally, the brain gets a bit smaller during puberty and it can be linked to teens' “immaturity.”

Those who have had major life changes or have stressful lives were also more prone to become binge drinkers.

Researchers also say that delaying a child’s drinking experience may help them in the future. Many parents allow a beer or glass of wine at the age of 14, but holding off a couple months or a year could lessen their chances of becoming a binge drinker.

Suzanne Costello, chief executive of Alcohol Action Ireland, agrees that early exposure to drinks could result in binge drinking late in life for teens.

Governments spend a lot of money each year to try and end alcohol abuse. The findings of this study can help form a base for healthcare professionals and social activists to address drinking habits at an earlier age. 

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