Study links parental loss to young drinking

(Getty / file)
(Getty / file)

A new UK report says if you lost a parent as a result of death or relationship breakdown, you could be more likely to start drinking alcohol and smoking before you reach your teens.

The study looked at 11,000 people, analysing children from nine months old to the age of 11.

They found more than one in four had experienced the loss of a parent by the age of seven.

Then by age 11, they were more than twice as likely to smoke and drink than those who hadn't experienced parental loss.

It also found that if the parental loss was due to death and the child had begun drinking, they were 12 times as likely to get drunk compared with children whose parent was absent due to a relationship break-up.

It's also worth noting of those that had tried alcohol and felt drunk from it, nearly twice as many were boys.

Researchers suggest some reasons for the findings may be reduced parental supervision, self-medication or the adoption of less-healthy coping mechanisms.

But the researchers do point out this is an observational study and no firm conclusions can be drawn about the cause and effects.