Children who develop language earlier may be at increased risk of alcohol problems later in life, a new study suggests. Finnish researchers studying twin pairs found children who spoke or read first were almost twice as likely to have alcohol problems as their twin by the time they reached 18.
The study also found children who talked and read earlier were four times as likely to get drunk at least monthly, compared with their twin, CBS News reports.
The researchers said the twins who had developed language earlier did not drink enough to have a drinking disorder. They said the intelligence that leads to earlier language skills may also make people more willing to try risky things, the article notes.
In addition, having developed verbal skills makes a person more social. The study found early speakers and readers had more friends than their twins. Being more social could lead a person to be in more social situations with alcohol, the researchers observed.
Researcher Antti Latvala of the University of Helsinki noted in a press release, “Peer associations and the tendency to seek novel experiences may in part explain the link between better language skills and engaging in drinking behaviors.”
The study appears in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.