Study: indicators of alcoholism present at birth

It is possible to identify young boys who will become alcoholics in later life, according to a Danish study.

The research, which medical daily Dagens Medicin describes as “rock solid, proven and tangible”, found that if a boy with an alcoholic father suffered a shortage of vitamin K during labour, was underweight at birth and had behavioural problems or ADHD as a child, he stands a high chance of becoming addicted to alcohol as an adult.

“It’s not something we think, we simply know it,” Dr Joachim Knop told Dagens Medicin. “The indicators are so certain and obvious that any experienced teacher with any knowledge of education could pick out one or two high-risk students after a week in the classroom.”

“If a child has the combination of an alcoholic father, a difficult birth, ADHD and behavioural problems, it might pay off to treat the ADHD with Ritalin in order to help the child,” Knop added. “I am not a fan of forcing medication on children and adolescents, but the alternative is that we ignore it until the problems develop in adulthood.”

The study was carried out at the University of Kansas in the US the Institute of Preventive Medicine in Copenhagen over a period of 33 years. Boys with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic fathers were tracked by the teams and interviewed every ten years.

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