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Familial influence and childhood trauma in female alcoholism

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  29 July 2011

Å. Magnusson*
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
C. Lundholm
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
M. Göransson
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
W. Copeland
Affiliation:
Center for Developmental Epidemiology, Duke University, Durham, NC, USA
M. Heilig
Affiliation:
Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden Laboratory of Clinical and Translational Studies, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, Bethesda, MD, USA
N. L. Pedersen
Affiliation:
Department of Medical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Karolinska Institutet, Stockholm, Sweden
*
*Address for correspondence: Å. Magnusson, M.D., Ph.D., I 66, BCS (The Center for Dependence Disorders in Stockholm), Karolinska Universitetssjukhuset, Huddinge, 141 86 Stockholm, Sweden. (Email: asa.magnusson@sll.se)

Abstract

Background

To assess the role of genetic and environmental factors in female alcoholism using a large population-based twin sample, taking into account possible differences between early and late onset disease subtype.

Method

Twins aged 20–47 years from the Swedish Twin Registry (n=24 119) answered questions to establish lifetime alcohol use disorders. Subjects with alcoholism were classified for subtype. Structural equation modeling was used to quantify the proportion of phenotypic variance due to genetic and environmental factors and test whether heritability in women differed from that in men. The association between childhood trauma and alcoholism was then examined in females, controlling for background familial factors.

Results

Lifetime prevalence of alcohol dependence was 4.9% in women and 8.6% in men. Overall, heritability for alcohol dependence was 55%, and did not differ significantly between men and women, although women had a significantly greater heritability for late onset (type I). Childhood physical trauma and sexual abuse had a stronger association with early onset compared to late onset alcoholism [odds ratio (OR) 2.54, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.53–3.88 and OR 2.29, 95% CI 1.38–3.79 respectively]. Co-twin analysis indicated that familial factors largely accounted for the influence of physical trauma whereas the association with childhood sexual abuse reflected both familial and specific effects.

Conclusions

Heritability of alcoholism in women is similar to that in men. Early onset alcoholism is strongly association with childhood trauma, which seems to be both a marker of familial background factors and a specific individual risk factor per se.

Type
Original Articles
Copyright
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2011

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