The clinical features of alcohol use disorders in biological and step-fathers that predict risk for alcohol use disorders in offspring

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Abstract

Given that Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is clinically heterogeneous, can we, in a large epidemiological sample using public registries, identify clinical features of AUD cases in biological and step-fathers that index, respectively, genetic and familial-environmental risk for AUD in their offspring? From all father-offspring pairs where the father had AUD and the offspring was born 1960–1990, we identified not-lived-with (NLW) biological fathers (n = 38,376) and step-father pairs (n = 9,711). The relationship between clinical and historical features of the father's AUD and risk for AUD in offspring was assessed by linear hazard regression. Age at first registration for AUD and recurrence of AUD registration were significantly stronger predictors of risk for AUD in the offspring of NLW fathers than in step-fathers. By contrast, number of AUD registrations in NLW fathers and step-fathers were equally predictive of risk for AUD in offspring. However, while the number of step-father AUD registrations that occurred when he was living them with significantly predicted risk for AUD in his step-children, the number of registrations that occurred when not residing with his step-children was unassociated with their AUD risk. In an epidemiological sample, we could meaningfully differentiate between features of AUD in fathers that indexed genetic risk which was transmitted to biological offspring (early age at onset and recurrence) versus indexed environmental risk (registrations while rearing) which increased risk in step-children.

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