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Paternal and maternal alcohol abuse and offspring mental distress in the general population: The Nord-Trondelag health study

Rognmo, K., Ask Torvik, F., Ask, H., et al. – 2012

Results of a Norwegian study on the connection between parental alcohol abuse and children’s mental distress. Presents background on the issue, including a summary of previous research on how paternal and maternal alcohol abuse impacts children’s psychological and behavioral problems. The study examined the following factors in adolescents: mental distress, self-esteem, social network, personality, school functioning, witnessing parents drunk, and demographics. Parental factors examined were alcohol consumption and alcohol-related problems, mental distress, and demographics. Results show that maternal alcohol abuse was much more likely to lead to offspring mental distress than paternal alcohol abuse. Maternal alcohol abuse was the factor found to be the strongest predictor of children’s mental distress. Authors suggest that maternal alcohol abuse may have a greater negative impact on children because the mother is usually the primary caregiver, and also because it is less common in society than paternal alcohol abuse. Authors note the positive role of resilience and protective factors, such as strong social support networks, for children.