Gender Of Alcoholic Parent May Influence Child's Risk Of Psychopathology


"Hmm.  Is that my bottle?": image via"Hmm. Is that my bottle?": image via Using data from the National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions, researchers sought to learn the influence of the gender of an alcoholic parent on the risk of their children developing some sort of psychopathology as adults.  This study, undertaken by professors Peter T. Morgan of Yale and Peter E. Nathan at the University of Iowa, is the first to find significant data to support gender as an aspect of risk in psychopathology.

The data from the survey gave the researchers plenty of variables to work with, starting with a sample of more than 40,000 men and women.  They looked at the interaction of demographic, social, and psychological and psychiatric variables and their first acknowledgement was that all children are susceptible to the negative effects of their parents alcoholism and they are all at greater risk for developing psychiatric illness. 

But when they placed the factor of gender, both of the parent and the child, into the mix, they did find one relationship particularly significant - that of a female AD parent and her female child. In other words, the female child is at an even greater risk of developing psychopathology if her alcoholic parent was her mother.  Among the other combinations of parent and child, the gender of the parent was not as significant.

"I would think that a primary health care provider treating a substance abusing woman would want to induce her to enter treatment for her AD as early in its course as possible," Dr. Nathan said, "given the likelihood that both she and her children, especially her female children, would likely run an especially high risk of psychopathology. The primary health care provider should also be alert to the heightened possibility of psychopathology in the female offspring of AD women and should, accordingly, help identify prevention/treatment programs for the child as early as possible." 

Nathan also suggested that parent and child gender should be considered in the development of all psychopathologies.

The authors' research will be published in the October 2010 issue of Alcoholism Clinical and Experimental Research, it is available in Early View online now.


Source: Medical News Today