The current investigation assessed for moderating effects of childhood trauma on genetic and environmental contributions to timing of alcohol use initiation and alcohol use disorder in African American (AA) and European American (EA) women. Data were drawn from diagnostic telephone interviews conducted with 3786 participants (14.6% AA) in a longitudinal female twin study. Childhood trauma was defined alternately as child maltreatment and more broadly to include other events (e.g., witnessing violence). Phenotypic associations between childhood trauma and alcohol outcomes were estimated using logistic regression analyses. Twin modeling was conducted to test for moderating effects of childhood trauma on the contributions of genetic and environmental factors to timing of initiation and alcohol use disorder. Under both definitions, childhood trauma was associated with early initiation (relative risk ratios: 1.90, 1.72) and alcohol use disorder (odds ratios: 1.92, 1.76). Yet gene by environment effects were observed only for child maltreatment and timing of initiation in EA women, with heritable influences less prominent in those who had experienced child maltreatment (0.35, 95% CI: 0.05–0.66 vs. 0.52, 95% CI: 0.30–0.73). We found more similarities than differences in the association of childhood trauma with alcohol outcomes across racial/ethnic groups, trauma type, and stages of alcohol use. However, findings suggest that the relative contribution of genetic factors to alcohol outcomes differs by childhood maltreatment history in EA women specifically in the earliest stage of alcohol use.
- African Americans
- Childhood trauma