Because it changes the way people think and act, alcohol is also closely related to behaviors that can seriously harm your child or cause harm to others.

With so many other issues affecting young people right now, teen alcohol use may not seem like that big of a deal. You might recall your own early experiences and figure that some drinking can be expected. But when we look at alcohol’s effect on a child’s developing brain, the risks become clearer.

It’s helpful to realize that the human brain continues to grow and develop until age 25. Frequent alcohol use can have a negative impact on regions of the brain that handle learning, memory and speech, as well as visual and spatial thinking.

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Dr. Wendy Hasson is double boarded in general pediatrics and pediatric critical care medicine. She is the medical director for the Pediatric ICU at Randall Children’s Hospital in Portland, Oregon, and a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics. She is also the mother to two young children, ages 6 months and 4 years.

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