Although there is considerable evidence that suggests that children of alcoholic fathers are at risk for maladaptive developmental outcomes, there is a large amount of heterogeneity in these outcomes. This study examined this hypothesis using broad measures of mental and language development during the toddler period as a function of fathers' alcoholism and associated risk factors. Participants included 102 families in which the father was alcoholic, 20 families in which the father was alcoholic and the mother was a heavy drinker and 104 control families matched in terms of maternal education, race/ethnicity, child gender, marital status and number of children. Families, in which the mother engaged in significant prenatal drinking or drug use, were excluded. Infants were tested at 12, 18 and 24 months old. Analyses revealed no significant differences between controls and infants of severe alcoholics, antisocial alcoholics, depressed alcoholics or family history positive alcoholics. There were also no differences between controls and infants in families with an alcoholic father/heavy drinking mother. The results suggest that overall mental development was not associated with paternal alcoholism. This raises the possibility that later problems in these areas may reflect more specific cognitive processes or the impact of parenting and behavioral problems among these children.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Psychiatry and Mental health
- Pharmacology (medical)