New research discussed on the Reuters newswire found that experiencing symptoms of depression at an early age was predictive of drinking alcohol at an early age. The study followed a sample of 1119 Puerto Rican kids aged 10-13, and collected data by interviewing the kids and their parents several times over a 4-year period.

Rates of alcohol initiation during follow-up varied markedly by level of depression. Roughly 4.1 percent of children with one or fewer depressive symptoms at baseline starting drinking during follow-up, compared with 10.2 percent of those with two to nine depressive symptoms, and 14.1 percent of those with 10 or more depressive symptoms.

The authors concluded that this is evidence that treating pre-adolescent depression is very important. Overall, this is an interesting study and I agree with the author’s conclusion, but think that both early depression and drinking are strongly predicted by an unhealthy family environment, something that was not discussed in the article.