Summary: Close and supportive parental relationships can help mitigate the genetic and environmental risk of developing alcohol use disorder in at-risk adolescents.
Source: State University of New York
For teens at high risk of developing alcohol use disorder (AUD), close relationships with parents can help mitigate their genetic and environmental vulnerability, according to a new study.
The offspring of people with AUD are four times more likely than others to develop the disorder. A growing body of evidence suggests that this hereditary risk may be amplified or mitigated by the quality of parenthood.
Poor parenting has been linked to a range of negative behavioral and psychiatric outcomes, while positive parenting appears essential for the development of higher-order social, emotional, and cognitive traits.
Typical neurological development during adolescence hones abilities for self-regulatory and executive functions (eg, attention, inhibition, and decision-making), enabling adaptive responses to difficult situations. Deficiencies in these abilities underlie the risk of developing substance use disorders.
Research has established that people with AUD and their offspring, when performing cognitive tasks, exhibit low activity on two measures of quantifiable brain responses.
These – known as P3 and frontal theta (FT) – are important in self-regulation and executive function. Low levels of P3 and FT predict the development of AUD and can be conceptualized as “neurological developmental delay”. Little is known about the potential of positive parenting, especially by fathers, to buffer this outcome in adolescents at high risk of developing AUD.
For the study in Alcoholism: clinical and experimental researchinvestigators explored associations between P3, FT, risky drinking, and closeness to their mothers and fathers during adolescence.
Between 2004 and 2019, researchers recruited 1,256 young children, initially ages 12 to 22, as part of the Collaborative Study in the Genetics of Alcoholism (COGA), a large, multigenerational family study of the influences genetic and environmental causes of AUD.
These offspring were interviewed and their brain function assessed twice a year. The interviews focused on substance use, mental health and aspects of their family environment, including closeness to their mothers and fathers between the ages of 12 and 17. Their P3 and FT responses were measured using a visual task.
The researchers also collected data on heavy drinking, impulsivity (a personality trait known to affect drinking problems and relationships with parents), demographic characteristics, and alcohol use. and substances from the parents. They used statistical analysis to explore associations between these factors.
Overall, greater closeness to fathers was associated with more robust P3 and FT activity in offspring, while closeness to mothers was linked to less heavy drinking. Some gender differences also emerged.
Proximity to fathers was linked to higher P3 in sons but not in daughters; closeness to mothers was linked to less heavy drinking in girls, but not in boys.
This may reflect the distinct roles of fathers and mothers in child and adolescent development, and the different parenting of boys versus girls. The results remained independent of other risk factors, including parental AUD, substance use problems, socioeconomic status, and offspring impulsivity.
The study provides compelling evidence that warm and close relationships with parents during adolescence can help build resilience to problematic alcohol use in children negatively affected by familial AUD and that this partly reflects a improved neurocognitive functioning. Aspects of parenthood affecting the risk of AUD in children include – and go beyond – behaviors related to alcohol consumption.
The researchers conclude that close ties with parents during the key transitional period of adolescence can significantly mitigate the offspring’s tendency towards risky behaviors and addictive disorders, with significant sex differences.
About this research news on neurodevelopment, parenting and AUD
Author: Gayatri Pandey
Source: State University of New York
Contact: Gayathri Pandey – State University of New York
Picture: Image is in public domain
Original research: Access closed.
“Associations of parent-adolescent closeness with P3 amplitude, frontal theta, and excessive alcohol consumption in children at high risk for alcohol use disorder” by Gayathri Pandey et al. Alcoholism: clinical and experimental research
Associations of parent-adolescent closeness with P3 amplitude, frontal theta, and excessive alcohol consumption in children at high risk for alcohol use disorder
Parents impact their offspring’s brain development, neurocognitive function, risk and resilience for alcohol use disorder (AUD) via genetic and socio-environmental factors. Individuals with AUD and their unaffected children exhibit low P3 wall amplitude and low frontal theta power (FT), reflecting inherited neurocognitive deficits associated with AUD. Similarly, children with poor parenting tend to have atypical brain development and higher rates of alcohol problems. Conversely, positive parenting can be protective and essential for the normative development of self-regulation, neurocognitive functioning, and the neurobiological systems that underpin them. Yet, the role of positive parenting in resilience to AUD is understudied and its association with neurocognitive functioning and behavioral vulnerability to AUD in high-risk offspring is less known. Using data from the prospective cohort Collaborative Study on the Genetics of Alcoholism (NOT = 1256, average age [SD] = 19.25 [1.88]), we investigated the associations of closeness to mother and father during adolescence with offspring P3 amplitude, FT power, and excessive alcohol consumption in high-risk offspring.
Self-reported closeness to mother and father between ages 12 and 17 and excessive alcohol consumption were assessed using the semi-structured assessment of the genetics of alcoholism. P3 amplitude and FT power were assessed in response to target stimuli using a visual Oddball task.
Multivariate multiple regression analyzes showed that proximity to father was associated with greater P3 amplitude (p = 0.002) and higher FT power (p = 0.01). Proximity to mother was associated with less heavy drinking (p = 0.003). In male offspring, proximity to father was associated with greater P3 amplitude, but in female offspring, proximity to mother was associated with less heavy drinking. These associations remained statistically significant with sire and dam AUD symptoms, socioeconomic status, and offspring impulsivity in the model.
Among high-risk offspring, closeness to parents during adolescence may promote resilience to the development of AUD and associated neurocognitive deficits, albeit with important sex differences.
#Close #relationships #parents #promote #healthier #brain #development #highrisk #teens #buffer #alcohol #disorder #Neuroscience #News