How does alcoholism affect offspring?

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Offline thedoc

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How does alcoholism affect offspring?
« on: 19/01/2016 05:50:03 »
Eric Lenhardt  asked the Naked Scientists:
    Just a general question about genetics of alcoholism, and specifically the way the male child of an alcoholic is at high risk to having cognitive disabilities compared to those without alcoholic fathers.
Is the cognitive developmental problem caused by the actual alcohol the father drank or by the genetics he was born with being passed on to his male child?
Thanks, and please write back when or if you air this question.

What do you think?
« Last Edit: 19/01/2016 05:50:03 by _system »

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Offline evan_au

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Re: How does alcoholism affect offspring?
« Reply #1 on: 19/01/2016 09:56:41 »
The clearest impact is when the mother drinks excess alcohol during pregnancy, resulting in fetal alcohol syndrome. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fetal_alcohol_spectrum_disorder

It is very difficult to separate the effects of genes and environment in something as complex as alcoholism.
  • Children growing up in families which are abusive, impoverished or lacking in parental attention are at a disadvantage in life.
  • There are known gene variants involved in alcohol metabolism which may predispose a person to become alcoholic. Each of these have a 50% chance of being passed to a child.
  • There are certain to be genetic (and environmental) factors affecting an "addictive personality", but these genes will be much harder to find
  • Growing up with an alcoholic will definitely affect attitudes towards alcohol and its usage. It may affect how one deals with the stresses of life. 

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Offline evan_au

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Re: How does alcoholism affect offspring?
« Reply #2 on: 19/01/2016 20:00:19 »
Quote
the way the male child of an alcoholic is at high risk to having cognitive disabilities compared to those without alcoholic fathers.
Children often imitate their parents. If alcohol is readily accessible in the home, children could start drinking from a young age. The effects of alcohol on the developing brain are thought to be negative, but are short on details.
See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alcohol_abuse#Adolescence