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According to a new research, seven percent of 4th graders have had an alcoholic drink in the past year. Rates of alcohol consumption continue to rise thereafter, with the biggest jump taking place between 5th and 6th grade — a time when many children begin middle school.

There is a fairly sizeable amount of literature showing that the earlier people start to drink, or even have their first drink, the more likely they are to have problems later in life with alcohol, drugs, delinquency, risky sexual behavior [and] motor vehicle accidents,” said John Donovan, associate professor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center and author of the study published in the September issue of Prevention Science.