Scientists hope to develop a taste test that could identify which people are at risk of becoming alcoholics.
A new study by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine reveals that people with a family history of alcohol abuse perceive some tastes differently to those without that background.
People from each group were asked to react to the tastes of salty and sour foods. Both produced a more pronounced response from those with a family history of alcohol abuse.
"A taste test would allow us to evaluate a child's risk of becoming an alcoholic long before he or she touches an alcoholic beverage," said Alexei Kampov-Polevoy, whose research is published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
"Taste preference is an innate reaction that may be detected within minutes after birth."