JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, U.S. GOV'T, P.H.S.
TWIN STUDY
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Drinks of the father: father's maximum number of drinks consumed predicts externalizing disorders, substance use, and substance use disorders in preadolescent and adolescent offspring.

BACKGROUND: The maximum number of drinks consumed in 24 hr seems to be an interesting phenotype related to alcoholism. The goal of the present study was to determine in an epidemiologic sample whether this measure of drinking history in fathers predicted externalizing behavioral disorders, substance use, and substance abuse in preadolescent and adolescent offspring and whether any such associations would be independent of paternal alcohol dependence diagnoses.

METHODS: Subjects were male and female twins from both age cohorts of the Minnesota Twin Family Study, a population-based longitudinal study, and were approximately 11 or 17 years of age, respectively, upon study enrollment. In both age cohorts, diagnoses of conduct disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder served as outcome measures. In addition, measures of lifetime substance use and of the presence of symptoms of substance abuse were derived for the 11-year-old cohort when subjects were approximately 14 years old and diagnoses of substance abuse were derived for the older cohort at age 17. An extension of logistic regression using generalized estimating equations served to assess whether paternal maximum alcohol consumption predicted filial outcome measures.

RESULTS: Paternal maximum alcohol consumption was consistently associated with conduct disorder, substance use, and substance abuse or dependence in male and female offspring. These associations were not mediated by a primary effect of paternal alcoholism.

CONCLUSIONS: Paternal maximum alcohol consumption was uniquely associated with those offspring characteristics most reliably found in adolescent children of alcoholic parents. This phenotype might supplement DSM diagnoses of alcohol dependence to reduce the number of false positives in genetic research.

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