(HealthDay News) — Alcohol poses a far greater threat to children than many parents may realize, according to a clinical report published online August 31 in Pediatrics.

Many children start drinking at a young age, and their size and inexperience with alcohol renders them more apt to be binge drinkers, report author Lorena Siqueira, MD, MSPH, director of adolescent medicine at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital in Miami, told HealthDay.

Between 36–50% of high school students drink alcohol, and 28–60% report binge drinking, according to the report. Those numbers are based on the adult definition of binge drinking – five or more drinks in a two-hour period for men, or four or more drinks for women. In 2014, half of twelfth graders and one in nine eighth graders reported having been drunk at least once in their life, with children starting to think positively about alcohol as early as between the ages of 9–13.

The authors of the new report urge health care providers to screen every adolescent for alcohol use, and that conversations about the dangers of drinking begin as early as 9 years of age.

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