Alcoholics with family drinking history have reduced brain growth

winebottles.jpgeMaxHealth reports that the brains of alcohol-dependent individuals are affected both by their own drinking, and genetic and environmental factors including how much their parents drink. That’s according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Researchers found reduced brain growth among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism or heavy drinking compared to those with no such family history.

“Our study is the first to demonstrate that brain size among alcohol-dependent individuals with a family history of alcoholism is reduced even before the onset of alcohol dependence,” explains first author Jodi Gilman, B.S., a NIAAA research fellow and Ph.D. candidate at Brown University

As well as genes which are supposed to predispose children of alcoholics to drink heavily themselves, the factors associated with living in such an environemnt cannot be ignored. This includes poor diet, unstable parental relationships, and alcohol exposure before birth.

There’s a lot more interesting science in the original article, though the bottom-line conclusion isn’t that surprising: children who live with parents who consume large amounts of alcohol are likely to adopt that kind of lifestyle for themselves. Here, the ‘nurture’ seems stronger than ‘nature’, and genetic influence or not, the environmental factors are very strong influencers on a child’s develoipment and behaviour.