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Parental Alcohol Use and the Alcohol Misuse of their Offspring in a Finnish Birth Cohort: Investigation of Developmental Timing

Abstract

There is a positive association between parental alcohol use and the alcohol use of their offspring. It is less clear whether this relation exists at different developmental periods. The purpose of the current study was to examine the associations between parental alcohol use at two developmental periods (prenatal and adolescence) and the alcohol misuse of their offspring at two developmental periods (adolescence and young adulthood). Data from the Northern Finland Birth Cohort 1986 (NFBC1986; n = 6963; 51% of offspring were girls) were used. The NFBC1986 is a population-based study of individuals born during a 1-year period in Finland. Multi-informant (parent, teacher, and youth) and multi-method (surveys and population registers) data were collected at four developmental periods (prenatal, childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood). The findings indicated that parents’ alcohol use was stable from the prenatal period to adolescence. Mothers’ and fathers’ (based on mothers’ perceptions) alcohol use during the prenatal period and adolescence were directly related to adolescents’ heavy drinking. Prenatal alcohol use by mothers and fathers were related to young adults’ alcohol use disorder indirectly (but not directly) through mothers’ and fathers’ alcohol use during adolescence and then through adolescents’ heavy drinking. The results suggest that early and ongoing screening for alcohol use by mothers and fathers could help identify individuals at risk for heavy drinking and alcohol-related problems during adolescence and young adulthood.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank Gail Smith for her valuable contributions to the project.

Authors’ Contributions

GP worked with the research team to conceive the study, assisted with statistical analysis and interpretation of the results, and drafted the manuscript; IP worked with the research team to conceive the study, performed the statistical analysis and assisted with the interpretation of the results, and helped to draft the manuscript; WAM worked with the research team to conceive the study, facilitated the development of study measures; assisted with statistical analysis and interpretation of the results, and helped to draft the manuscript; MC worked with the research team to conceive the study, facilitated the development of study measures; assisted with statistical analysis and interpretation of the results, and helped to draft the manuscript; JS worked with the research team to conceive the study and facilitated the development of study measures; JM worked with the research team to conceive the study, participated in its design and coordination, and helped to draft the manuscript; MRJ worked with the research team to conceive the study and participated in its design and coordination. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

Funding

The analyses were supported by National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), National Institutes of Health, Grant # R01 DA038450. Support for the Northern Finland Birth Cohort was provided by the European Commission (Grant DynaHEALTH—H2020—633595), EU QLG1-CT-2000-01643 (EUROBLCS) Grant no. E51560, NorFA Grant no. 731, 20056, 30167, Academy of Finland (#268336), and USA/NIHH 2000 G DF682 Grant no. 50945. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the funding agencies. The funders played no role in the research design, analysis, or writing and submission process. With support from the grants, all authors contributed to drafting the manuscript. The authors disclose no conflict of interest.

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The study was approved by the ethical committee of the Northern Ostrobothnia Hospital District and The study was performed in accordance with the ethical standards as laid down in the 1964 Declaration of Helsinki and its later amendments.

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Parra, G.R., Patwardhan, I., Mason, W.A. et al. Parental Alcohol Use and the Alcohol Misuse of their Offspring in a Finnish Birth Cohort: Investigation of Developmental Timing. J Youth Adolescence 49, 1702–1715 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-020-01239-5

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Keywords

  • Parental alcohol use
  • Heavy drinking
  • Alcohol use disorder
  • Adolescence
  • Young adulthood
  • Developmental timing