TUESDAY, July 20 (HealthDay News) -- The risk that children of
an alchoholic parent run of developing a psychiatric illness later
in life may depend, in part, on their gender and whether it was
their mother or father who was alcohol-dependent, a new study
The link appears to be strongest between mothers and daughters,
according to the new findings, says a team from Yale
It was already known that the adult children of alcoholic
parents are at increased risk for psychiatric illnesses, but the
effects of child or parent gender weren't well known.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 23,000 males and
almost 17,400 females included in the U.S. National Epidemiological
Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions.
The mother-daughter connection was most influential in
increasing a daughter's risk for mania, nicotine dependence,
alcohol abuse and schizoid personality disorder, the study
While not as strong, there was also increased risk of
psychiatric illnesses among the adult children of alcoholic parents
in father-son, father-daughter, and mother-son pairings.
The study appears online and in the October print issue of the
Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.
"The problems caused by alcoholism are not limited to the individual who suffers from it. Children are particularly susceptible to the negative effects of alcoholism in a parent, and adult children of alcoholics are in general at much greater risk for developing every type of psychiatric illness," study corresponding author Peter T. Morgan, an associate professor of psychiatry at Yale, said in a journal news release.
"The key, new finding of this work is that the effect parental alcoholism has on children is different depending on the gender of the alcoholic parent and the gender of the child," he said.
The study results are important in two ways, Morgan added.
"First, these findings reiterate how damaging alcoholism can be to the mental health of children who grow up with an alcoholic parent," he said. "Second, and particular to this study, these findings indicate that in a family with an alcoholic mother, daughters may be at greater relative risk for developing psychiatric problems. Such information could be used to identify parents at potentially greater risk for certain disorders and could be used to encourage reduction of substance abuse in parents."
The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has
alcohol abuse and alcoholism.