Sunday December 15, 2019

updated - December 15, 2019 Sunday EST

Researchers discover new way to predict which teens will binge drink

Jul 07, 2014 02:50 PM EDT | By Staff Reporter
Lean Machine
The Canadian beverage company Vampt is currently doing taste tests for their new drink called Lean Machine, a low-alcohol, protein-packed beer. The drink is reported to be filled with nutrients, electrolytes and antioxidants intended to help the body refresh after intense exercise.(Photo : Bernt Rostad)

A new study published Monday found that genetics, brain function and other factors hold promise of helping researchers predict which teenagers will become binge drinkers and abuse alcohol.

 The study, published in the journal Nature, suggests scientists can teach a computer to make such a prediction with close to 70 percent accuracy.

More than 2,000 14-year-olds across Ireland, England, France and Germany were studied and it was found that multiple personality traits affect a child's drinking habit in later life.

While adolescent brains undergo significant rewiring during puberty and it is normal for them to reduce in size, the study revealed that bigger brains are associated with future binge drinking, due to their link with immaturity.

In explaining the basis for the study, lead researcher Dr. Robert Whelan, a former Universityof Vermont (UVM) postdoctoral fellow in psychiatry and now based at the UCD School of Psychology, University College Dublin, explained that studying brain structure was one of many factors researchers looked into.

"Our goal was to develop a model to better understand the relative roles of brain structure and function, personality, environmental influences and genetics in the development of adolescent abuse of alcohol," explained Dr. Whelan. "This multidimensional risk profile of genes, brain function and environmental influences can help in the prediction of binge drinking at age 16 years."

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