You may want to think twice before you let your kids try a little taste of the beer or wine you are drinking. According to a new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, kids who sip drinks now and then are more likely to start drinking earlier, and tend to abuse alcohol when they drink.

Researchers found that of 561 students in the study, those who had sipped alcohol by the sixth grade were five times more likely than their peers to have a full drink by the time they were in high school. And these students were four times more likely to have binged on alcohol or gotten drunk.

However, lead researcher Kristina Jackson, Ph.D, says that it doesn't necessarily prove that early tastes of alcohol are to blame, and the goal of the study was not to determine if it was ok or not to allow young children a sip on occasion.

"I don't think parents need to feel that their child is 'doomed,' " co-author of the study and associate research professor at Brown University's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies, Kristina Jackson said of parents who already let their kids have sips of alcohol.

She says that only 10 percent of sippers reported having a full drink, and less than 10 percent said they had been drunk.

"I think the most important thing is to make sure that children know when drinking alcohol is acceptable and when it is not," Jackson says.

Twenty-six percent of kids who had sipped said they had a full drink by the ninth grade, versus six percent for the kids that had never tried alcohol. Of that same group of children, nine percent reported that they had binged on alcohol or gotten drunk, versus 2 percent of non-sippers. According to Jackson, it's possible that kids are receiving a "mixed message." At a young age, kids may have difficulty understanding the difference between a sip of wine and having a full beer.

"I would say that it is advisable not to offer your child a sip of your beverage, as it may send the wrong message -- younger teens and tweens may be unable to understand the difference between drinking a sip and drinking one or more drinks," Jackson says.

But, she added, the findings do underscore the importance of sending children consistent messages about drinking and making sure they cannot get ahold of alcohol in the home.