Genetic Modification of the Relationship between Parental Rejection and Adolescent Alcohol Use

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Parenting practices are associated with adolescents' alcohol consumption, however not all youth respond similarly to challenging family situations and harsh environments. This study examines the relationship between perceived parental rejection and adolescent alcohol use, and specifically evaluates whether youth who possess greater genetic sensitivity to their environment are more susceptible to negative parental relationships.


Analyzing data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health, we estimated a series of regression models predicting alcohol use during adolescence. A multiplicative interaction term between parental rejection and a genetic index was constructed to evaluate this potential gene-environment interaction.


Results from logistic regression analyses show a statistically significant gene-environment interaction predicting alcohol use. The relationship between parental rejection and alcohol use was moderated by the genetic index, indicating that adolescents possessing more ‘risk alleles’ for five candidate genes were affected more by stressful parental relationships.


Feelings of parental rejection appear to influence the alcohol use decisions of youth, but they do not do so equally for all. Higher scores on the constructed genetic sensitivity measure are related to increased susceptibility to negative parental relationships.

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