ATLANTA (CBS Atlanta) – Doctors and educators have warned that even a sip of alcohol might lead to behavioral problems, like alcoholism or drug dependency, later in life.

But a new study suggests that that may not be the case, reports Live Science.

Researchers surveyed 452 children from ages 8 or 10 and their families about sipping alcohol.

94 of the children tasted alcohol from the start of the study to the time they turned 12.

They found there were no changes of behavior that could be linked to those sips of booze.

“Children who started sipping before age 12 did not differ from children who did not,” said study co-author John Donovan, an associate professor of psychiatry the University of Pittsburgh.

The researchers were unable to find a conclusive link between sipping and the risk of problem drinking, drug use, delinquency, and risky sexual behavior in adolescence.

“This finding suggests that sipping during childhood is not itself a problem behavior like delinquent behavior or drug use,” Donovan said.

Up to 66 percent of children may sip alcohol before age 12, according to a previous study by the researchers.

Donovan said there does not seem a causal relationship between sipping and later behavioral problems. Many other factors could affect later behavior.

“So, logically, childhood sipping may relate to these later problems as well, but it may not be the case that sipping in childhood has any negative outcomes. We just don’t know yet,” he added.

More research is needed to know whether supervised sipping in childhood encourages healthy drinking behaviors or leads to problem drinking later in life, said the study.

Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States, according to the CDC. It is for more than 4,300 annual deaths among underage youth

The study is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research

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