To support the free and open dissemination of research findings and information on alcoholism and alcohol-related problems. To encourage open access to peer-reviewed articles free for all to view.

For full versions of posted research articles readers are encouraged to email requests for "electronic reprints" (text file, PDF files, FAX copies) to the corresponding or lead author, who is highlighted in the posting.


Thursday, August 11, 2011

Trends in adolescent alcohol use: Effects of age, sex and cohort on prevalence and heritability

To determine the effect of age, sex, and cohort on the prevalence and genetic architecture of adolescent alcohol use (AAU). Design Survey study in participants registered with the Netherlands Twin Register. Setting Twins from the general population.

Two cohorts (data collected in 1993 and 2005-8) of twins aged 13-15, 16-17 and 18-21. In 1993 and 2005-8 a total of respectively 3269 and 8207 twins took part.

Survey data on initiation and frequency of alcohol use and quantity of alcohol consumed.

The prevalence of alcohol initiation increased between 1993 and 2005-8, for both males and females. The largest difference was observed at age 13-15, where the prevalence increased from 62.5% to 73.7%. We also found increases in prevalence across cohorts for quantity of alcohol consumed and non-significant increases for frequency of alcohol use. From age 16 onwards, boys drank more frequently and larger quantities than girls. Genetic model fitting revealed that the genetic architecture of AAU does not differ between birth cohorts, nor were there differences between boys and girls. Genetic factors explained between 21% and 55% of individual differences in alcohol measures throughout adolescence. Shared environment explained between 17% and 64% of variance in alcohol use, across different age groups and alcohol measures.

In the Netherlands, the prevalence of alcohol initiation, frequency and quantity has increased in adolescents over a 15 year period, but there are no changes in the genetic architecture of adolescent alcohol use.

Read Full Abstract

Request Reprint E-Mail: