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Earlier Talkers More Likely to Become Heavier Drinkers

Sep 15, 2013 01:59 AM EDT
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Early Development of Intellectual Skills Linked To Heavy Drinking in Adulthood

(Photo : Reuters )

Early speech and reading skills have generally been attributed with being smart, however, a new study found that those who began speaking earlier in life had a higher probability of developing an alcohol habit in adulthood.

A research team from Finland studied 3,000 twins and found the twin who spoke or read first was almost twice as likely to drink more than his or her sibling by the time they were 18.

The study, published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research on Sept. 13, also noted that the more verbally-competent group was four times as likely to get inebriated at least once a month compared to their counterpart

However, the researcher stressed this does not suggest that verbal skills cause drinking behaviors. Verbal intelligence makes people more social, and in fact, the study authors discovered that the earlier speakers and readers had more friends than the twins that had less verbal prowess. Therefore, this allows them to be in more social situations where they are more likely to drink then their twin sibling.

"People have this impression that intelligence is somehow related to being introverted and bookwormish," wrote lead author Antti Latvala, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Helsinki in Finland, according to TIME. "But if you look at these large studies they definitely find this association with sensation-seeking and seeking different kind of experiences. [They're] trying to learn new things. It could be related to the nature of intelligence."

"It is important to realize that experimenting with alcohol and drinking to intoxication -- although illegal and not without risks -- is very common among adolescents and can be regarded as normative behavior in many countries," Latvala added.

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