Children of parents with an alcohol use disorder (AUD) are at increased risk for the same type of problem, says a new study from Denmark.
The risk of an alcohol use disorder, which includes alcoholism and alcohol abuse, was higher among those whose parents had an AUD. The increased risk was independent of other major predictors, such as gender, parents' social status and the psychiatric hospitalisation of parents, the researchers noted.
"Furthermore, this association appeared to be stronger among female than male offspring, which suggests that inherited factors related to AUDs are at least as important among daughters as among sons," study corresponding author Erik Lykke Mortensen, associate professor in medical psychology at the University of Copenhagen, said.
"This finding is important because some early studies suggested that a genetic load played a stronger role in males than in females," he added.
Increased risk for offspring of drinkers
Researchers analysed data from 3,627 men and 3,550 women born in Copenhagen, Denmark, between October 1959 and December 1961. Their findings appear online and in the print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
The researchers noted that Denmark offered some advantages to this type of study. "Longitudinal population studies are both expensive and take a long time to complete," Mortensen said. "In some countries it may also be a problem to follow several generations through decades. But in Denmark we have personal identification numbers and national health registries."
"The key message for the general public is that there is an increased risk associated with parental alcoholism, but obviously many other factors determine whether an individual develops an AUD," he concluded.
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