Many parents believe exposing their children to alcohol at a young age may deter children from alcohol abuse later in life. However, new research suggests children are less likely to mirror their parents' responsible drinking habits.

Researchers from the RTI International and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, gathered data from more than 1,000 mothers and their third-grade children.

Lead researcher Christine Jackson, a public health analyst, conducted telephone interviews with both the women and children.

The study, published in the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, revealed that one in five women who participated in the study believe allowing their child to consume alcohol will help them resist peer pressure and less likely to experiment later in life. Forty percent of women think if they prohibit their child from consuming alcohol it would only trigger the child's desire to have it. Additionally, 32.8 percent of children reported consuming alcoholic beverages such as beer and wine.

Jackson found many parents believe that the way their children drink at home under adult supervision will be the same way they drink in public with their friends. More times than not, that is not the case.

"It is possible that an early introduction to alcohol, even when it is limited to sips and even when it is meant to discourage child interest in alcohol, could backfire and lead to more drinking later on," Jackson told

According to Ralph Hingson, director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, allowing adolescents to consume alcohol too early puts them at higher risk to develop alcohol dependency. He recommends delaying alcohol exposure for as long as possible.

Other health experts such as Philip Hirschman, chief clinical officer at CRC Health Group, a provider of addiction treatment programs, recommends that parents should discuss drugs and alcohol with children and how they can effectively deal with those encounters.

If you are a parent who needs help talking to your child about drugs and alcohol visit