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Importance: The research focus on children of parents with alcohol use disorder has eclipsed the potentially wider-reaching detrimental effects of subclinical parental drinking, both alone and in combination with other parental risk factors.
Objective: To identify constellations of early parental risk characterized by variations in drinking, mental health, and education in both parents and examine their prospective associations with children's contact with the health care system for anxiety and/or depression (ie, diagnoses or treatment).
Design, Setting, and Participants: This prospective study was based on linked survey and health registries data. The sample included 8773 children from 6696 two-parent families in Norway who participated in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study (HUNT) survey in 1995 to 1997 or 2006 to 2008, when the children were aged 13 to 19 years. Data were analyzed from January to September 2018.
Exposures: Five constellations of early parental risks, characterized by variations in drinking frequencies and amounts, mental health, and education for both parents, as identified through latent profile analysis.
Main Outcomes and Measures: Children's diagnoses or treatment of anxiety and/or depression from 2008 to 2016 were recorded in 3 health registries. The primary outcome was the total number of registries where participants presented (ranging from 0 to 3).
Results: Of the 8773 included children, 4404 (50.2%) were boys, and the mean (SD) age at the time of participation in the Nord-Trøndelag Health Study was 16.1 (1.8) years. Prevalence of anxiety and/or depression, as evidenced in at least 1 registry record, was 24.3% (2132 of 8773). Early parental risk profiles risks marked by (1) the lowest parental education (adjusted relative risk, 1.13; 95% CI, 1.01-1.25) and (2) elevated drinking in both parents and elevated mental health symptoms in fathers (adjusted relative risk, 1.52; 95% CI, 1.03-2.22) were associated with a significant increase in risk of anxiety and/or depression in children from those families compared with children from no-risk families.
Conclusions and Relevance: Studies seeking to understand prospective associations of parental drinking with children's mental health need to consider additional risk factors in combination with one another as well as parental behaviors and characteristics below clinically defined levels. When accumulated at a family level, even seemingly innocuous characteristics contributed to meaningful increases in risk of anxiety and/or depression among children, potentially translating into poorer mental health outcomes for many young people.
Ingunn Olea Lund
Ingunn Olea Lund
Ingunn Olea Lund,Svetlana Skurtveit,Marte Handal,Anne Bukten,Fartein Ask Torvik,Eivind Ystrøm,Jasmina Burdzovic Andreas