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J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 1993 Sep;32(5):995-1002.

Psychopathology in children of alcoholics.

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Division of Child Psychiatry, Washington University, St. Louis, MO 63110.



To assess psychopathology in 125 and 158 children who are offspring of alcoholic and control parents.


Parents and children were interviewed by means of structured interviews. Parents were interviewed about themselves and about their children. Teacher reports were obtained. A total of 158 young people ages 6 to 18 years were in the study, although some of the analyses use only 125.


Children of alcoholic parents showed higher rates of oppositional and conduct disorders but not attention deficit disorder. Children of alcoholic parents did not have significantly higher rates of depression, but they may be at risk for anxiety. These children also showed increased incidence of alcohol and other substance use but not abuse or dependence as defined by DSM-III. Few differences were detected with respect to self-esteem and achievement tests among the groups. There were no differences in the rates of psychopathology between offspring of alcoholic versus antisocial parents.


These data indicate that children of alcoholics exhibit high rates of psychopathology and may be at risk specifically for oppositional and conduct disorders but not for depression. There are few differences between alcoholics and controls with respect to self-esteem and achievement tests.

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[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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