European Child & Adolescent Psychiatry

, Volume 4, Issue 3, pp 143–152 | Cite as

Children of alcoholic parents. A review

  • Hans -Christoph Steinhausen


Children of alcoholics are prone to genetic, environmental, and teratogenic risk factors. This review starts by outlining the developmental risks due to intrauterine exposure to alcohol. Furthermore, the overall findings from genetic research are summarized. A further section deals with the analysis of the environment of the family with an alcoholic parent. Within the section on psychopathology the special links to conduct disorders and delinquency, hyperkinetic disorders, substance abuse, anxiety and depression, and somatic problems are described. Special consideration is also given to the literature dealing with cognitive and neuropsychological functioning in the offspring of alcoholic parents. Finally, the limitations of current knowledge are emphasized.


Alcohol Abuse Child Psychiatry Children Parents Offspring Risk Factors 


Les enfants d'alcooliques sont exposés à des facteurs de risque génétiques, environnementaux et tératogènes. Cette revue commence par résumer les risques développementaux dues à l'exposition intra-utérine à l'alcool. Ensuite les résultats des recherches génétiques sont résumés. Un autre chapitre traite l'analyse de l'environnement de la famille avec un parent alcoolique. Dans le chapitre psychopathologie, les liens spéciaux avec les troubles des conduites et la délinquence, les troubles hyperkinétiques, la toxicomanie, l'anxiété et la dépression et les troubles somatiques sont décrits. La littérature traitant du fonctionnement cognitif et neuropsychologique des enfants de parent alcooliques fait l'objet d'une attention particulière. Enfin, on insiste sur les limites des connaissances actuelles.


Kinder von alkoholkranken Eltern sind genetischen, umweltbezogenen und teratologischen Risikofaktoren ausgesetzt. Diese Übersichtsarbeit beginnt mit einer Darstellung der Entwicklungsriskiken urch die intrauterine Alkoholexposition. Ferner werden die Übersichtsbefunde der genetischen Forschung zusammengefaßt. Ein weiterer Abschnitt beschäftigt sich mit der Analyse der familiären Umwelt mit einem alkoholkranken Elternteil. In dem Abschnitt zur Psychopathologie werden die speziellen Verbindungen zu dissozialen Störungen und Delinquenz, hyperkinetischen Störungen, Drogenmißbrauch, Angst und Depression sowie somatischen Symptomen beschrieben. Besonders berücksichtigt wird auch die Literatur, die sich mit kognitiven und neuropsychologischen Funktionen bei den Kindern alkoholkranker Eltern beschäftigt. Schließlich werden die Grenzen des gegenwärtigen Wissens betont.


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Copyright information

© Hogrefe & Huber Publishers 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans -Christoph Steinhausen
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Child and Adolescent PsychiatryUniversity of ZurichZürich

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