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Parental alcohol use disorders and alcohol use and disorders in offspring: a community study

  • R. LIEB (a1), K. R. MERIKANGAS (a1), M. HÖFLER (a1), H. PFISTER (a1), B. ISENSEE (a1) and H.-U. WITTCHEN (a1)...

Background. We examined the association between parental alcohol use disorders and patterns of alcohol consumption and DSM-IV alcohol use disorders in their offspring in a community-based sample of young adults.

Methods. Data are based on baseline and 4-year follow-up data of 2427 respondents aged 14–24 at baseline. Alcohol use and disorders in respondents were assessed using the Munich-Composite-International-Diagnostic-Interview with DSM-IV algorithms. Diagnostic information about parents was collected by family history information from the respondents, and by direct interview with one parent (cohort aged 14 to 17 years only).

Results. Although the association between maternal and paternal alcohol use disorders and non-problematical drinking in offspring was minimal, there was a strong effect for the transition to hazardous use and for alcohol abuse and dependence; the effect of parental concordance for transition into hazardous use was particularly striking. Maternal history was associated with a higher probability of progression from occasional to regular use, whereas paternal history was associated with progression from regular to hazardous use. Parental alcoholism increased the risk for first onset of hazardous use and alcohol dependence between the ages of 14–17, and for an earlier onset of the alcohol outcomes in offspring. The impact of parental alcohol use disorders was comparable for male and female offspring.

Conclusions. Parental alcoholism predicts escalation of alcohol use, development of alcohol use disorders and onset of alcohol outcomes in offspring.

Corresponding author
Address for correspondence: Dr Roselind Lieb, Max-Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Clinical Psychology and Epidemiology Unit, Kraepelinstrasse 2, 80804 München, Germany.
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Psychological Medicine
  • ISSN: 0033-2917
  • EISSN: 1469-8978
  • URL: /core/journals/psychological-medicine
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