Hot only are alcoholism and externalizing disorders frequently comorbid, they often co-occur in families across generations; for example, paternal alcoholism predicts offspring conduct disorder just as it does offspring alcoholism. To clarify this relationship, the current study examined the 'common genes' hypothesis utilizing a children-of-twins research design. Participants were male monozygotic (MZ) and dizygotic (DZ) twins from the Vietnam Era Twin Registry who were concordant or discordant for alcohol dependence together with their offspring and the mothers of those offspring. All participants were conducted through a structured psychiatric interview. Offspring risk of conduct disorder was examined as a function of alcoholism genetic risk (due to paternal and co-twin alcohol dependence) and alcoholism environmental risk (due to being reared by a father with an alcohol dependence diagnosis). After controlling for potentially confounding variables, the offspring of alcohol-dependent fathers were significantly more likely to exhibit conduct disorder diagnoses than were offspring of nonalcohol-dependent fathers, thus indicating diagnostic crossover in generational family transmission. Comparing offspring at high genetic and high environmental risk with offspring at high genetic and low environmental risk indicated that genetic factors were most likely responsible for the alcoholism-conduct disorder association. The observed diagnostic crossover (from paternal alcoholism to offspring conduct disorder) across generations in the context of both high and low environmental risk (while genetic risk remained high) supported the common genes hypothesis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)120-131
Number of pages12
JournalTwin Research and Human Genetics
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2005


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