A behavioral-genetic perspective on children of alcoholics

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Abstract

Resemblance between parents and their children with respect to certain behaviors (e.g., alcohol use) may result from shared genes or from environmental influences that affect all members of a family similarly. Behavioral geneticists have used adoption, twin, and genetic marker studies to investigate the contributions of genetic as well as shared and nonshared environmental influences to the increased risk for alcoholism in children of alcoholics (COA's). These analyses have found that in male COA's, genetic makeup (i.e., genotype) plays an important role in the development of alcoholism; in female COA's, however, the results were less consistent. Moreover, for both men and women, genetic factors alone cannot account for their risk of alcoholism. The behavioral-genetic concepts of genotype-environment interaction and genotype-environment correlation may provide useful models for the joint influences of genetic and environmental factors in the development of alcoholism.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)210-217
Number of pages8
JournalAlcohol Research and Health
Volume21
Issue number3
StatePublished - Dec 1 1997

Keywords

  • Adoption study
  • AOD dependence
  • AOD use behavior
  • AODD (alcohol and other drug dependence)
  • AODU (alcohol and other drug use) development
  • Children of alcoholics
  • Family environment
  • Gender differences
  • Hereditary vs. Environmental factors
  • Risk factors

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