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Drug Alcohol Depend. 2019 May 1;198:95-99. doi: 10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.01.040. Epub 2019 Mar 14.

Childhood language development and later alcohol use behaviors.

Author information

1
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Muenzinger D244, 345 UCB, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, United States; Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, 1480 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, United States. Electronic address: kerri.woodward@colorado.edu.
2
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, 1480 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, United States.
3
Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Colorado, Muenzinger D244, 345 UCB, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, United States; Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, 1480 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, United States.
4
Institute for Behavioral Genetics, University of Colorado, 1480 30th Street, Boulder, Colorado, 80303, United States; Institute of Behavioral Science, University of Colorado, 483 UCB, Boulder, Colorado, 80309, United States.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Studies have shown a correlation between language abilities and alcohol use; however, results are inconsistent. A recent study using a discordant twin design showed an association between early child language development and later alcohol use behaviors; i.e., the twin with more advanced language abilities was more likely to try alcohol earlier in adolescence (Latvala et al., 2014). The authors suggested that this could result from better socialization of individuals with greater language abilities, which could lead to more opportunities for alcohol experimentation. The findings by Latvala et al. raise interesting questions, but the study has limitations, and replication is needed.

METHOD:

We aimed to replicate and build upon these results utilizing 488 same sex twin pairs from the Colorado Longitudinal Twin Study, a longitudinal sample with quantitative measures of language abilities starting when the twins were 14 months old.

RESULTS:

We found no significant correlations between a latent measure of child language abilities or measures of general cognitive ability at ages 14, 20, and 24 months and a latent alcohol use variable at ages 17 and 22 years.

CONCLUSION:

Our results did not replicate the association between early language ability and later alcohol use reported by Latvala et al. Possible reasons for differing results across samples, including varying cultural norms as well as differences in educational attainment, peer influences, and novelty seeking, were discussed.

KEYWORDS:

Alcohol use; Behavioral genetics; Language; Twin study

PMID:
30889525
PMCID:
PMC6467720
[Available on 2020-05-01]
DOI:
10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2019.01.040
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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