istock photo © Evgeny Kan
How likely is your child to succumb to the temptations of alcohol use as a teenager? According to a recent study, genetic and environmental factors play a role in children's interaction with alcohol, meaning that parents can have an impact.
Danielle Dick, assistant professor of psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University, and other researchers studied data collected on more than 5,000 pairs of twins in Finland. "Finland has a central population registry, unlike in the U.S.," which made locating the study subjects possible, Dick explains. The findings, published this fall in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, could be helpful in determining which teens may be at risk.
The sets of twins were first studied at age 12. Identical and fraternal twins were included to examine the effect of chromosomal similarities and differences in concert with the type of environment in which the children are raised. So, says Dick, "If fraternal twins are exactly alike, the environment is responsible for the behavior." Parental monitoring and neighborhood environments were taken into consideration when examining the level of social control and influence over the adolescents.
Teens with high parental monitoring have fewer opportunities for alcohol experimentation, Dick says. "Genes are important in alcohol-use statistics, but the environment can moderate how important genetic predispositions are."